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Jessica Raborn

Patient/Survivor Stage III Rectal Cancer California
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In April 2022, I was having blood in my stools and went to the doctors. My doctors told me it was most likely my hemorrhoids, but he would schedule me for a sigmoidoscopy. But, because he did not make a big deal about it, I put it off and had other things that I felt were more important going on.

In December 2022, the bleeding got worse and my best friend and husband told me to call the doctor. So I did. He scheduled me for a sigmoidoscopy on February 3, 2023.

I was going to go alone but the day before I asked my husband to take the day off and go with me. We were about 5 minutes into the procedure when I asked what was on the screen. She proceeded to tell me that she was sorry, and she has been doing this for over 30 years, and that it was cancer.

She took three samples to send for testing. I shut down and could not hear anything else she had said.

She then moved me to another room and spoke with my husband and me letting us know what the next steps that needed to happen were. I went and did the blood work that day. The MRI was done three days later. She called me with those results and told me that there was a large tumor in the rectum/colon.

On February 8, 2023, the pathology report came back, and I was scheduled to see an oncologist on February 15. During that appointment, he let me and my husband know that I had stage IIIb rectal cancer.

Signs and symptoms included rectal bleeding or blood in stool.

Treatment received was chemotherapy, surgery (with a temporary ostomy), and radiation.

Side effects included fatigue, bowel irregularities, neuropathy, chemo brain, and distress or mental health issues/illness.

I would advise someone who was afraid to seek medical treatment or screening that if you have bleeding or bowel changes, go get checked and fight for yourself.

Some words of encouragement are: Keep fighting. Live every day. Know that every day is a gift. I know that I got a second chance to live my life to the fullest.

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