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Stephanie McBride

Patient/Survivor Stage III Rectal Cancer Florida
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At age 42, I was finally referred for a colonoscopy, following at least 18 months of classic CRC symptoms (rectal bleeding or blood in stool, ongoing change in bowel habits, narrow stools, stomach cramps/bloating/fullness, anemia/low iron, and fatigue), despite seeing a doctor every three months.

Waiting in the recovery room, joking with my husband that I was going to be told it was the largest hemorrhoid they'd ever seen, the doctor entered and stated I had colorectal cancer.

I was numb. It was the most scared I had ever been and unfair because I'd been mentioning symptoms for months to my doctor.

When I got home, my oldest teen asked how my procedure went. I made a face, and he said, "At least it's not cancer." My husband and I replied, "Well..."

It was the worst day of my life. I worried with my months of symptoms, where else in my body was this cancer? What was the plan?What would treatment look like? Was I going to live?

I hated that it happened to me and wondered why.

Treatment included chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, and my tumor's biomarkers were tested. I also had a temporary ileostomy.

As a result of treatment, side effects included pain, neuropathy, and increased anxiety.

My advice to others would be that I learned the hard way to be a better advocate for myself. If you are having multiple symptoms, demand a referral for a colonoscopy. This is the best test to give you answers to your concerns.

Everything takes time. The first step of getting a treatment plan helped me feel less anxious. I found meditation to help with the anxiety I experienced and still use it regularly. For friends and family of the CRC baddie, send regular texts you are thinking of them.

It's nice to be included when your world stops and everyone else is living their cancer-free lives.

One thing all members of Congress should know is that the minimum screening age should be 40. CRC is preventable with screening.

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