Cancer Can Happen at any Age
- Teaching assistant Sophie Anderson was misdiagnosed with anxiety and other common issues like IBS for years before doctors found a football-sized tumor on her bowel at just 22 years old.
- After many years of distress in not knowing what was wrong with her, Sophie needed a life-saving surgery.
- Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer. Blood in the stool is one of the more common symptoms to look out for.
Doctors simply did not look further into her symptoms.Read More
Sophie’s symptoms started way back in 2016, when she was 18 years old. The Cambridgeshire, England native was doing things any teen loved to do, and particularly loved outdoor festivals.
“One day I needed to go to the toilet and passed a lot of blood,” she said. “It was weird, but it didn’t happen again for a while, so I thought maybe it was just a one off. Then I started to feel really weighed down, constantly bloated and fatigued.”
This is when doctors determined she was suffering from anxiety and depression. Commonly, people tend to have anxiety and depression when they don’t know what is wrong with them, so that is understandable. There are unfortunately too many cases these days where doctors are not looking further into the symptoms. As a society, generalized anxiety has become more common in young people, but that does not mean that a young person’s symptoms or concerns should be dismissed.
Finally, a colonoscopy was scheduled for Sophie. She had stage 3 bowel cancer, and the gigantic tumor was discovered. Thankfully, it wasn’t too late and she caught it just in time.
At too young of an age, Sophie underwent an intense surgery, which included a full hysterectomy—the removal of her uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. She also needed a temporary stoma bag, which is typically very devastating for someone at any age, let alone someone just starting her adult life.
Luckily, she made it through the traumatic time, and is now in remission.
“I am so happy I am here. This summer I have done things that I never thought I would do again,” Sophie, who is back to enjoying music festivals, reflected of her good fortune.
“I have seen other girls my age with the same disease not make it and it’s hard to know that they won’t get to grow up, have a family or go to the beach, like I am doing again.“
“I want to make the most of every day now and celebrate what I have and not what I have lost.”
Learning More About 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 exerciseAnemia — 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.