IN THEIR WORDS

Carly Goodell

Colon Cancer At 21

I was finishing my junior year of college in April of 2011 when I started to have stomach pain. Initially, my doctor recommended I see my gynecologist. My gynecologist thought I might have a ruptured cyst, so she gave me some pain medication and sent me on my way.

From there, it only got worse. Blood started to appear in my stool, which was really uncomfortable to talk about. I also started vomiting regularly. While I constantly visited the emergency room to try to find the root of these issues, the nurses and doctors overlooked my case because I was only 21 years old.

The pain continued and I was admitted into the hospital overnight so they could run standard tests. I was diagnosed with diverticulosis, which just meant changing my diet and exercising more, so that’s exactly what I did.

I started to eat healthier and exercise, but I was still in pain and not passing “normal” stools. Finally a nurse asked if I would like a colonoscopy (this was the only test I hadn’t received yet). I said “sure why not,” and was scheduled for the procedure in a month.

I lived with the pain and started to lose weight drastically and was counting down the days until I had my colonoscopy. The next morning I walked into the colonoscopy clinic with my dad and saw no one my age. I thought to myself, “Why am I even here?” Even the nurse looked over my records and said, “You’re so young, don’t worry honey, I’m sure it’s nothing.”

When I woke up from the procedure, the doctor who did my colonoscopy said he wanted to talk to my father and me. He told me that I had a tumor blocking my colon and he couldn’t get his camera/scope through and was scheduling me for emergency surgery.

A week later I went into surgery, not knowing what the outcome would be. When I came to, my doctors told me my tumor was blocking 97% of my colon, so they removed my tumor along with ten inches of my colon.

Then they said the “C word,” cancer.

They said my tumor would be sent out to a lab where they would test it to see if it was cancerous. My doctor called about a week later and told me that I had colon cancer, but the twenty lymph nodes they tested surrounding my tumor all came back negative. It was a very happy and sad moment all in one—sad to have cancer, happy that the lymph nodes were negative.

My surgeon suggested that I undergo chemotherapy as a precautionary measure and I had twenty treatments from September of 2011 to March of 2012.

I graduated in the winter of 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. My experience taught me to be more aware of my body and not to let pain or any kind of symptom go for too long.

Only you know your body, so speak up if something isn’t right!

"Only you know your body, so speak up if something isn’t right!"

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