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Leigh Martin

Patients & Survivors Stage II Rectal Cancer South Carolina
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Leigh's story

My doctor recommended I get a colonoscopy because the age for screenings was lowered to 45. On November 29, 2022, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. I had a follow-up flexible sigmoidoscopy to locate the cancer and surgery in February of 2023.

I had no signs or symptoms. In fact, the summer before I was diagnosed, I completed three sprint triathlons, and I was currently training for a half marathon (which I completed after being diagnosed). I had stopped eating meat about a year before my colonoscopy, and I felt great.

My oncologist recommended Signatera ctDNA blood tests every two to three months for the next five years. If the cancer returns, this test will detect it, so we can start treatment right away. The journey doesn't end after surgery. In fact, I know my journey is just beginning, and I am glad to have a support team surrounding me.

Signs and symptoms

No signs and symptoms.

Side effects

Side effects include bowel irregularities and LARS.

Leigh's advice

I am so relieved that I was screened when I was. If my doctor had not recommended the colonoscopy or if I had waited until I was 50, the cancer would have been growing in me for years before being detected. It is so much better to catch it early and to be treated. I feel like my surgery and follow-up care have saved my life.

My message to others would be, "You are not alone." Even though you can be surrounded by family and friends, it is important to connect with others who have had similar experiences. I have connected with a strong cancer support group and I have lots of people who are with me throughout this journey.

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