Tag Archive for: colon cancer

Millennial Stage IV Colon Cancer Survivor Urges Earlier Screening

Millennial Stage IV Colon Cancer Survivor Urges Earlier Screening from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 Stage IV colon cancer patient Ashley received her diagnosis at age 33. Watch as she shares her story starting with a routine physical, surgery and treatments that she endured, and lessons learned during her cancer journey.

Special thanks to our partner, Colorectal Cancer Alliance, for helping to make this vignette possible.


Transcript:

My name is Ashley, and I’m from West Virginia but currently reside in Nebraska. In February 2021, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at the age of 33.

I decided I wanted to join the Air National Guard and had to complete a physical examination. After visiting a hematologist/oncologist for dangerously low iron and hemoglobin levels, I went in for a routine physical a few months later. The physician’s assistant found a mass in my stomach area, and they sent me for a CT scan. The next morning, my husband Josh got the call that I missed. The CT scan had shown three different masses – and was likely cancer.

I was dumbfounded, shocked, and then I felt the tears rolling down my face. My doctor informed me, “You need surgery immediately, since the tumors are getting close to completely closing up your colon.” I also had a tumor on my liver.

I had surgery to remove the tumor before it closed my colon, but the surgeon couldn’t get to the tumor on my liver. After surgery, they told me the three most important things to do while there that would get me home sooner were eating with no issues, walking, and having a bowel movement.

Finally after two surgeries where my liver, gallbladder, one-quarter of my colon, part of my small intestines, appendix, two large tumors, and a lymph node that turned into a tumor was removed, as well as 12 rounds of chemo.

I received news in March 2022 that my cancer is back but will not be as aggressive as it was before. I am taking things one step at a time and one day at a time, trying to stay optimistic at each step.

When someone gets cancer – the “journey” is never over. The fear NEVER goes away. Even when you are declared to have no evidence of disease, there is a possibility cancer can come back. And if it does come back, the chance of fighting and winning again gets slimmer.

If you know someone that has cancer – be kind – just because they don’t look sick, doesn’t mean they aren’t having challenges. Just because their numbers and scans are good doesn’t mean they are in the clear for the rest of their life. Always, always – BE KIND!

Some of the things I have learned during my colon cancer journey are:

  • Get your colon cancer screenings on time. Or if you’re too young like me, listen closely to what your body tells you and get annual physicals.
  • Say yes to those who want to help by bringing food, checking in, or donating. We are amazed by the support we’ve received from friends, family, and complete strangers.
  • Fighting the cancer fight is much easier knowing how many people are on our side and how much love there is for us out there.
  • Advocate for yourself! Do research on your specific type of cancer and mutations. If you feel you are being told something that just doesn’t seem right, question it – push the bar until you can’t anymore! There are so many options out there when it comes to cancer and survival, you just need to find the right person that will take care of you!

These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.

May 2022 Notable News

This month brings exciting and new information to help with the fight on cancer. As technology improves, knowledge gathered about cancer changes how the medical community views and approaches cancer treatment. Early screening is the key to dramatically reduce colon and rectal cancers in women. There is also a rise in esophageal cancers in middle aged adults, early screening plays a key role in patient outcome.

New Evidence Shows Cancer is not as Heritable as Once Thought

Scientists have found that cause of cancer is not primarily genetic as once thought. There are three causes of cancer: genetic (genome), environmental (exposome), and metabolic (metabolome). As cancer develops and spreads in the body, it creates its own environment and introduces certain metabolites. It becomes a self-fueled disease, reports MedicalXpress.com . Looking at how the cancer grows and survives in the body offers another more specific avenue of treatment for physicians to offer their patients. Simple changes to a patient’s metabolism and lifestyle can change the internal environment and prevent the cancer from growing. Scientists looking at all three causes of cancer opens more options for cancer prevention and treatment. Find more information here.

Starting Colon, Rectal Cancer Screening Earlier Reduces Risk in Women, Study Finds

Starting colon and rectal cancer screening at ages 45 to 49 has resulted in about a 50% reduction in cases of the disease diagnosed in women ages 45 to 60, compared with starting screening at ages 50 to 54 reports, UPINews.comColon and rectal cancers are the third deadliest cancers and there has been rising rates among younger people. In response to the rising rates of occurrence, earlier screening has been encouraged by physicians. The standard procedure for screening is a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, the doctor can identify and remove cancerous tumors at an earlier stage and remove polyps that could become cancerous. Find more information here.

Alarming Rise Found in Esophageal Cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus in Middle-Aged Adults

Adults ages 45 to 64 experienced a nearly doubled rate of esophageal cancer and a 50 percent increase in the precancerous condition Barrett’s esophagus between 2012 and 2019 reports MedicalXpress.com . This information has prompted doctors and scientists to look at the causes of this rise, is it due to an increase in screening or is it an actual rise in cancer. Doctors use endoscopy to guide a small camera down the patient’s esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Esophageal cancer is usually detected in later stages due to minimal symptoms in the early stages. People with elevated risk factors such as chronic acid reflux, male gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and Barrett’s esophagus need to get earlier screening. Early screening is the best tool in prevention, often the endoscopy can be done at the same time as the colonoscopy. Find more information here.

COLONTOWN University Resources

COLONTOWN is an online community of more than 120 “secret” groups on Facebook for colorectal patients, survivors, and care partners. There are separate neighborhoods focused on patients with different stages of disease, the differing types of treatment, and special interests – such as CRC clinical trials, young-onset CRC patients, and local support groups.. Check out some of their valuable resources below:

1. CRC101 for Newly Diagnosed Patients

CRC101 is your first stop for learning about a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. From understanding the jargon to tips for navigating your first few weeks, you will find everything here that the thousands of patients and caregivers in COLONTOWN think you should know right from the beginning. Learn more here.

2. Diagnostic and Surveillance Testing Learning Center

The Testing Learning Center provides up to date information about liquid biopsies, tumor sequencing, and all the new ways to get information about your cancer. We’ve got not only the science, but also the logistics, covered; how to get a test, and how to get it reimbursed. Learn more here.

3. The Lecture Hall

A collection of more than 30 webinars with leading clinicians and researchers to stay up to speed on everything colon cancer. Learn more here.

March 2022 Digital Health Round Up

Cancer screening is the best tool available in the fight against cancer. Thanks to technological advances, one company is using artificial intelligence to transform the future of cervical cancer screening. Rush Hospital in Chicago is also using an artificial intelligence system to improve colon cancer screening. Both cervical and colon cancer often do not present with symptoms in early stages, so screening is important. A company in Madison is using digital technology to analyze tumor biopsies, in turn allowing for more effective treatment options for providers and patients.

AI Transforms Cervical Cancer Screening

Health experts said the new technology could be instrumental in ensuring earlier detection of pre-cancerous cells and cancer cells and has the potential to save lives, reports Newschainonline.com . A hospital in the UK is piloting the technology using artificial intelligence that takes digital cytology images from cervical smear samples that test positive for HPV (human papillomavirus). The AI sorts through all the cell images and pulls out the images of abnormalities. The expert providers use these images to detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Find more information here.

Rush Deploys AI System for Colon Cancer Screening

The Medtronic GI Genius intelligent endoscopy system can help increase the ability to locate multiple polyps during a colonoscopy by 50 percent, resulting in enhanced diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, reports healthitanalytics.com . This Artificial Intelligence helps physicians find polyps that the naked eye cannot see, therefore catching the polyps before cancer can develop. Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer. Rush Hospital in Chicago, Illinois is using the technology during their colonoscopies. Find more information here.

Madison Company Testing New Technology in Cancer Diagnosis

With three-dimensional imaging licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, based on work from the lab of UW-Madison biomedical engineering professor Kevin Eliceiri, Elephas Biosciences can analyze live tumor samples to see how well they respond to therapies, reports Madison.com . This can help diagnose all types of cancer with solid tumors. These live tissue samples from the biopsies can be tested with different treatments to see which is most effective. Physicians can try the treatment on the tumor before using it on the patient; this could eliminate blind testing and provide better outcomes with less side effects for patients. Find more information here.

COLONTOWN’s CRC Biomarkers Worksheet

Editor’s Note: This resource was originally published by COLONTOWN, here.


This tool, developed by COLONTOWN Director of Clinical Trials Programming (and stage IV patient) Steve Schwarze, will help you gather information about your disease and your biomarkers to discuss with your medical team. Download the PDF and fill it out!

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Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2021

August 2021 Notable News

The news this month is a little nutty! Actually, it’s a little peanutty! It turns out that eating peanuts could cause cancer to spread but drinking milk could save young people from developing colon cancer. Widowers are more likely to have advanced prostate cancer, and having a positive attitude isn’t necessarily a requirement for surviving cancer. All that and a glimpse into the state of cancer rates across the globe.

Global State of Cancer

A chart detailing the cancer survival, incidence, and death rates of several countries provides information about the global state of cancer, says medicalnewstoday.com. The lowest cancer rates were found in India, which also had the lowest cancer death rates. Doctors in India believe that prevention and education, service delivery, and research should all be equal in cancer care. The United States has the highest cancer rate, but possibly because of the screening tests that detect cancer earlier and more successfully than in other countries. However, the US also has a prevalence of cancer risk factors, such as obesity, that could be contributing to the high incidence of cancer. China has the highest cancer mortality rate. Learn more about the state of cancer in other countries here.

Potential Cause of Metastasis

A recent study shows that cancer patients who eat a lot of peanuts could have an increased risk of metastasis, reports sciencedaily.com. The study showed that, after eating peanuts, a carbohydrate-binding protein called peanut agglutinin (PNA) enters the blood stream. The PNA interacts with blood vascular wall cells which then leads to the production of cytokines, molecules that are known to cause cancer to spread. Another study showed that PNA binds to a sugar chain that is associated with cancer cells and that it could lead to the cancer cells being stickier and easier to attach to blood vessels. While more research needs to be done, patients may want to use caution when it comes to eating large quantities of peanuts. Find more information

here.

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D could help younger adults protect themselves against colon cancer, reports usnews.com. Researchers have learned that the overall incidences of colon cancer are decreasing, but among younger adults, colon cancer is on the rise. The increase in cases seems to be linked with a decline in eating foods full of vitamin D, such as fish, mushrooms, eggs, and milk. The study found that young people could reduce their risk of getting colon cancer at an early age by about 50 percent if they consumed 300 IU of vitamin D each day, which is the equivalent of about three glasses of milk. The study is the first to make the connection between vitamin D levels and the rising rates of colon cancer in the younger population. Read more about the connection here.

Widowers and Prostate Cancer

Researchers found that widowers are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, reports medicalxpress.com. Widowers tend to be diagnosed later than married men or men in a relationship, when the cancer has reached advanced stages and has spread into other areas of the body. Studies have shown that people living with a partner have a healthier lifestyle and are more likely to be encouraged to see a doctor when symptoms appear. For better health outcomes, widowers can turn to family and friends for support and be sure to have regular medical checkups. Learn more here.

Power of Positivity

Some people say that the secret to beating cancer is all about having a positive attitude, but as 20-year cancer survivor Caitlin Flanagan points out in theatlantic.com, sometimes it’s hard to feel positive about a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Read this great piece about why the power of positive thinking may not be a requirement to survive cancer here.


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