Colon Cancer: Signs and Symptoms

colon cancer definition with blue ribbon

It was a gloomy day in June of 2013. I had just pulled up to drop my sister off at her apartment when our mom called. Usually, my mom is cheerful and happy but this time we were greeted by a somber, more serious version of our mom. Immediately my thoughts ran wild. Had someone in my family been hurt? Had our home caught on fire? And then she said it, “I have cancer.” I had never expected to hear those words come from one of my own family members. My heart immediately broke as I thought about my sisters and I possibly losing our mom and my dad losing his wife. Life could never be the same without her. After hanging up with my mom both my sister and I sat in my car and just cried. It’s safe to say that was an extremely difficult day of my life.

My mom had been diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. Very soon after her diagnosis, she underwent surgery to remove the portion (9 inches) of her colon that was infected with cancer. What started out as a simple laparoscopic surgery turned into a complicated open surgery. They had found that the cancer had perforated the wall of her colon, causing bacteria to leak and lesions to form. Along with that, her intestines had stuck together. Biopsies of the area, lesions, lymph nodes, and anything else questionable were done because the doctors were afraid that the cancer may have spread throughout her body.  After the surgery was over we were informed that my mom would need to have chemotherapy treatments.

Flash forward to 2016, my mom is healthy and well. She never ended up needing chemotherapy and so far, the cancer hasn’t returned. My mom is a survivor. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. According to the American Cancer Society “colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death.” About 136,830 people are diagnosed with colon cancer per year and 50,310 people will die from the disease.

Cancer is known as the silent killer. Colon cancer is no exception. Because it shows little to no early signs it often goes unnoticed. Here is a list of signs and symptoms you can look out for that may mean you have colon cancer:

  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation, that lasts longer than four weeks.
  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal discomfort (cramps, gas, pain, etc.) that is persistent
  • Feeling like your bowel doesn’t completely empty
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Don’t let this awful disease sneak up on you like it did to my mom. Be aware of your body and if something isn’t normal, get it checked out. Get your regular screenings. Don’t let cancer bring you down.

SCREENING LOCATIONS:

Madison Memorial Hospital
450 E Main St, Rexburg, ID 83440
(208) 359-6900

Madison Surgery Center
381 E 4th N #200, Rexburg, ID 83440
(208) 359-9888

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