In 2016, Colleen C was diagnosed with Stage II esophageal cancer at age of 29 and shared her experiences on the podcast: Stories with a Purpose.
“Colleen tells her story about overcoming esophageal cancer by relying on family, great medical care, and extraordinary patient navigator. Listen to how this experience has re-energized her focus on care-giving and help for special needs kids.”
To listen to the podcast interview, please click here.
Read Colleen’s story below:
“My name is Colleen and I am currently 31 years old. In March of 2016 at the ripe age of 29, I went to see a GI doctor for chronic heartburn but now I was experiencing intense stomach aches. My doctor essentially thought it was ulcers and wanted me to have an endoscopy done. Low and behold my doctor found a tumor where my stomach and esophagus intersect. The next day I was diagnosed with stage 2 esophageal cancer and my honeymoon was abruptly put on hold. I was a newlywed and scared out of my mind to be diagnosed with a “rare” cancer.
I was also the youngest patient my hospital had ever seen with this type of cancer. Because they had the tumor “exactly where they wanted it” without spreading the completed esophagectomy surgery 2 weeks later. It was then followed by fertility treatments, chemotherapy, and radiation.
I spent my 30th birthday recovering in the CVTU learning how to regain my new “normal” life. Learning how to re-eat was absolutely quite the struggle; in fact i’m still learning my limits. I work out more, watch what I eat, and try to not let anything get in the way of my sense of humor.
If I didn’t make fun of myself and what I was going through I would have never made it out of this horror story. Just because I’m now in remission doesn’t mean I don’t live with the fear everyday that cancer can return. I try to keep my mind busy and my anxiety at bay. I’m loving life and doing my best to advocate early detection for symptoms such as acid reflux and heartburn.”
Esophageal Cancer Fast Facts:
Esophageal cancer has increased over 600% in the past three decades and is currently considered the fastest growing cancer in the United States and western world. Due to it’s rapid increase, esophageal cancer is affecting more and more people: both men and women of all ages and every ethnicity. There are no standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer and symptoms often do not occur until the cancer has spread.
Thank you Colleen for sharing your experiences on the podcast and with The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation. As Colleen stated, if there is something off or amiss with your health, please speak to your doctor immediately and remember that you are your own best advocate when it comes to your personal health.
Take Colleen’s advise: “If it doesn’t feel right, get it checked.”
Please join us in raising awareness of esophageal cancer and Colleen’s story by sharing this post!