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Laishan Ito

Patients & Survivors Stage IV Colon Cancer California
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Lashan's story

I am 46 years old: A graphic designer who lives in Los Angeles, California, with my husband and two sons, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in November 2022 at age 45.  

Initially, I was going into the hospital for a laparoscopy procedure to remove bilateral complex cystic masses on my ovaries. My surgery turned out to be much more serious and five hours long. My post-operative diagnosis was probable distal sigmoid colon carcinoma, metastatic to bilateral ovaries, omentum, and cul-de-sac. It means a cancerous growth in my sigmoid colon caused the spread to my ovaries, uterus, and omentum.  

As shocking as it was for me and my family to find out the news, I feel very fortunate that my surgeons were able to excise all the affected areas with lower anterior resection of the colon. I lost a good amount of weight due to post-surgery pain, lack of appetite, occasional vomiting, and bloating with bowel movements. The nurses encouraged me to get up and walk to help my body to heal.  

As I was slowly accepting the reality and recovering from the surgery, I started my chemotherapy in December. My chemotherapy treatment is called FOLFOX infusion with a 5FU pump that I go home with for 48 hours, and then it gets removed at the clinic. I have been on this treatment every other week. My oncologist is straight forward with me on the possible side effects, and my chemo treatment will be ongoing. 

I asked my doctor if I should get a colonoscopy, but he didn't think I needed one since I am not 50 [Note: In May 2021, the USPSTF lowered the recommended colorectal cancer screening age to 45] and do not have a family history of colon cancer. I also had an X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound on my abdomen prior to the surgery and didn't see any issues with my colon. I also noticed unusual throbbing pain in my abdomen and pelvic area at night.  

If I didn’t go to my OB/GYN for checkups and investigate the cause for pain, I wouldn't know there was something wrong with my ovaries, which led me to discover that I have colon cancer.  

I went through all sorts of emotions trying to figure out what I could have done to prevent colon cancer, and there is no definite one answer.  

I started to follow organizations, such Fight CRC and joined colon cancer groups, which helped me understand more about colon cancer and that I am not alone battling with this disease. 

Fast forward to now, I am truly grateful that I am under the care of a group of professional medical team who are fighting alongside me on this cancer battle. Chemotherapy is keeping me stable, and my PET scans are clear as of June.

The plan is to get a second opinion to see if they have other recommendations on any possible treatment that I could consider going forward. 

What motivated me to submit the design for Fight CRC is I want to help raise the awareness of colorectal cancer and it is potentially preventable with early detection. I am using bright colors, movement, and icon-like graphics to express that there is hope for colorectal cancer patients.  

Unfortunately, the age group for colorectal cancer patients is getting younger and younger. Having a colonoscopy at the age of 50 is simply not soon enough.  

Signs and symptoms

In retrospect, I had some symptoms that I didn't think were related to colon cancer. I had indigestion, bloating that caused vomiting and thought it was stomach acid reflux disease. I did not have blood in stool. My primary doctor prescribed me some medicine, and it seemed to help a bit.  

Side effects

The first few rounds of my treatments, I experienced nausea and vomiting, but things improved, and it went away. I started to gain more appetite and feel more normal in terms of being able to handle some daily routines.  

During my chemo weeks, I feel exhausted and feel cold sensitivity on my hands and feet as soon as I get my treatments. On my 11th round of chemotherapy, my oncologist removed oxaliplatin from my regimen, as my neuropathy was getting worse, which is what I am still dealing with. 

Laishan's advice

We need to be our own advocate for our health to be on top of our regular checkups and go to the doctor when we feel something is off with our body.  

It's important for us to not give up on hope for those who are diagnosed with cancer. Finding the right medical team for treatments and guidance is vital to cancer patients in their fighting and healing journey.

The fight is never easy and unique individually, but with the help of doctors, nurses, support groups, and positive mindset, we are going through this together, and there is hope on the road of recovery for colorectal cancer patients. 

There is hope for colorectal cancer patients.

Laishan's motivation

What motivated me to submit the design for the Fight CRC t-shirt contest is I want to help raise the awareness of colorectal cancer and that it may be preventable with early detection. I am using bright colors, movement, and icon-like graphics to express that there is hope for colorectal cancer patients.  

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