A Mom's Fight Against Bowel Cancer
- A devoted mom is battling colon cancer; she was diagnosed two months after giving birth. Doctors dismissed her initial symptoms.
- Colon, or bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel.
- Always advocate for your health; be pushy, our experts say.
She first started experiencing symptoms 20 weeks into her pregnancy and was diagnosed with the disease two months after giving birth.Read More
Crossley’s doctors “assured her what she was feeling was all part of being pregnant, but the pain only grew worse after she gave birth.” The mom says, “I was probably at the doctor’s every fortnight, just saying ‘something’s not right.'”
“For me, I will beat this. I have to beat this. There’s not really another option.”
Researching her symptoms online, she found the official Bowel Cancer Australia website which outlined what she was experiencing. Crossley brought the information to her doctor who then agreed to run some tests.
Crossley is having surgery to treat her bowel cancer, after the CT scan revealed her cancer. The cancer has spread to her liver and lymph nodes.
Crossley is hopeful. She says, “For me, I will beat this. I have to beat this. There’s not really another option.”
Understanding Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, says the National Health Service. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
In the UK, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed. It typically presents in people over the age of 60. And in the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women, excluding skin cancers.
Unfortunately, more and more cases are occurring in younger people, but symptoms are still getting overlooked.
Dr. Paul Oberstein, director of the Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Program at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet a few common symptoms of the disease to look out for:
- Change in bowel movements — sudden changes to the size, consistency or caliber of stool
- Change in stool color — bright red or black stool is a sign that an individual should seek medical attention.
- Pain in the abdomen — unusual discomfort or bloating of the stomach. In the case of women, pain isn’t related to the menstrual cycle.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss — rapid drop in weight that isn’t the result of diet or exercise anemia — Individuals who feel a general sense of malaise or faintness, or are constantly tired or weak much more than usual, may want to consult a doctor.
- Many symptoms of bowel cancer are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, so make sure to consult with your doctor.
Advocating for Your Health
Whether you are currently fighting cancer or fearing that you might have it, it’s essential to be your own advocate.
When working with your medical team, tell them precisely what you feel and raise anything that may feel off to you. Every symptom should have a plan to address it, and if you feel like you are not being heard, continue to push and seek a second opinion if your concerns are not being addressed.
The only way to know this is to continue to push for answers, telling your medical team exactly what you are experiencing and demanding that you receive the best treatment for your specific situation.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Zuri Murell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional– that’s what I do for all of my patients.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet staff