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Renee Jonat

Patients & Survivors Stage I Rectal Cancer New Jersey
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Story: "On October 5, 2020, I was diagnosed with stage I rectal cancer, and everything in my life changed. My two small children's lives and my husband's life changed at that moment as well. I was 36 with no family history of any cancer — let alone colorectal cancer.

"I randomly contracted C. diff, which caused rectal bleeding, due to an antibiotic. The C. diff was treated, but the bleeding didn’t stop. I literally fought with my GI at the time to push for a colonoscopy. My doctor said it was, 'probably irritation from C. diff and not to be worried.'

"I’m glad I fought. They found a 1 centimeter rectal tumor that turned out to be cancer. The next few months were tormenting. I had multiple surgeries. Then, two weeks later, they told me I had to go to chemo/radiation or get the LARS surgery. That was by far the hardest moment of my life."

Advice: "Everyone needs to be their own medical advocate and not be ashamed of talking about their bums or poop — it’s silly to say but so true. This cancer can be stopped in its tracks, but because people are embarrassed or afraid to stand up to their doctor, more people die than should.

"Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be embarrassed to talk about any symptoms you have. No one is alone in this, though I know there are many moments in this journey you will feel alone."

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