March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the group Fight Colorectal Cancer, it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, with about 130,000 people diagnosed annually.
Alice Marshall from Topeka was diagnosed with stage-four Colon Cancer in 2015.
“It started in April of 2015, when I went to a dermatologist that is frequented for Basal Cell Carcinoma,” said Marshall. “There was a spot on my forehead that the dermatologist found, and that spot ended up being lymphoma. So he sent me to KU (Health Center) to a lymphoma oncologist, and I did 15 rounds of radiation. Then the lymphoma oncologist ordered a CT Scan and it showed a tumor in my colon.
I had surgery in my colon, a resection. The GI oncologist surgeon removed over a foot of my colon, and 39 lymph nodes. Twenty of the lymph nodes had colon cancer in them.”
“A lot of times you can’t see Colon Cancer on a CT Scan, so that’s one lucky aspect of her story,” said Dr. Raed Al-Rajabi, Alice’s oncologist. “You really need a colonoscopy to directly visualize the inner surface of the colon, to basically diagnose Colon Cancer.”
Alice’s story is rare, because her cancer wasn’t caught through a screening. But after her experience, she knows the importance of reguarly getting one.
“It’s one cancer you can find through screening,” Marshall said. “You can find it before it grows more. So it’s important!”
Although the American Cancer Society recommends regular screening at age 45, for someone with an average risk, Alice’s doctors warn that younger people are more at risk now too. Doctors are still not sure why.
According to Dr. Al-Rajabi, “patients in their 20’s and 30’s in the next few decades may have an increase of 100 to 150 percent of colon cancer or rectal cancer.”
As of now, Alice’s chemo and radiation is over, and she’s now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s all ok,” Marshall said. “I am going to beat it. I feel like I have to beat it.”
Alice is now an ambassador for the group Fight Colorectal Cancer, and raises awareness nationwide, including posting strong arm selfies on social media.
For more information on how to post a “Strong Arm Selfie” visit: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/blog/strongarmselfie-questions-answered/
Visit this website to see a full list of symptoms of Colon Cancer: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/prevent/symptoms/