March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colon Cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women in the U.S, according to the American Cancer Society. This year — the American Cancer Society estimates just over 50,000 people will die of colorectal cancer.
At age 48, Jacqui Schrader from Emporia was diagnosed with it.
“I had a pain in my lower left abdomen, and it would come and go. It wasn’t always there, it wasn’t constant, but it would hurt. After two to three days, I realized, ‘Oh something is bad’,” Jacqui said. “So he [Jacqui’s doctor] said, you probably have colon cancer and we would like to do a colonoscopy. After the surgery, it was chemotherapy for almost 8 months.”
But the fight wasn’t over yet for Jacqui. Two years later, in 2013, she was diagnosed yet again.
“It had spread to my ovaries. It had metastasized. So that’s when you’re at stage 4, because it has gone beyond the point of where it started. The first time around, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “And you don’t know anything; what chemo is like, what surgery is like. So the second time around you do. you know how crappy it is.”
Despite the devastating news, Jacqui wasn’t going to give up. She fights for the people she loves, including her son, who at the time was just graduating from high school.
“You live for them. You do these things for them,” Jacqui said. “Because there was just no way I wanted him to be without a mom.”
Jacqui has been cancer-free for four years, and her goal today is to fight for others. She is an ambassador for the national Fight Colorectal Cancer organization.
“I want to be able to go out and tell people, if I had listened to my body way early, I wouldn’t have gone through everything I did,” she said.
Health professionals urge you to listen to your body and see a doctor.
Brooke Wilson, an Oncology Certified Nurse at Newman Regional Health said, “The biggest thing with colon cancer is it can be cured. But it has to be caught. If you don’t go and get your colonoscopy. If you’re not listening to your doctor, then the odds are you aren’t going to be cured.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, main symptoms include: changes in your bowel habits, rectal bleeding, persistent abdominal discomfort, and unexplained weight loss.
Wilson says, contributing factors you can control are diet and exercise. Today, Jacqui is on a mission to bring awareness to the cause and help save lives.
“We can stop this. And that’s what I want to do,” says Schrader.
Fight Colorectal Cancer is doing a social media fundraiser, using the hashtag #StrongArmSelfie. Each Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter post or share, sends one dollar to fight colorectal cancer.
For more information on Colon Cancer, treatment, and screening options visit: