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Sara Harwell

Patient/Survivor Stage III Colon Cancer Illinois
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I was diagnosed at age 26 in August 2013. I had just returned from my honeymoon and had a colonoscopy later in the month. They sent me home with pictures of my colon and they took 14 biopsies from my colon that day and would let me know the results as soon as possible.

The next day they called me back into the hospital and told me it was cancer and that I needed to get a CT scan right away. I remember we had just received our wedding video that day so we watched it in an open room in the hospital. I remember thinking I would never forget that I watched my wedding video while waiting to be called in for a CT scan to see if cancer had spread all over my body or not. To say I was numb was an understatement.

My signs and symptoms included rectal bleeding or blood in stool.

Treatment included surgery and chemotherapy.

Something that members of Congress need to know is that many young patients have no idea how to navigate the health care system. They don’t realize how many hours it will take to advocate for their insurance coverage, claims, rights, etc. Patients need easily ready health advocates regardless of their employer.

My advice to others is, "Listen to your body, go to the doctor and be your own advocate."

I was going through chemo at the same time as someone else and I remember he told me “God gives you what you can handle.” I’m not an overly religious person but it gave me comfort and I’m grateful to be here today.

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