Overcoming colorectal cancer in my 20s

When I proposed to my girlfriend, Sarah, in September 2013, I thought that would be the biggest moment of my year. Little did I know that just a few months later, at the age of 24, I would be diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer. My diagnosis came after I’d started to notice a pain in my back. I thought it was just kidney stones, but doctors found a mass in my abdomen during a wellness exam. An ultrasound and a CT scan revealed a racquetball-sized tumor in my colon. Not wanting to take any chances, I came to MD Anderson and had a colonoscopy with Patrick Lynch, M.D. I anxiously waited and prayed for results, so when I got the phone call confirming my diagnosis, I was scared but relieved. I knew my faith in God would keep me going. Because I have no family history of cancer, colorectal cancer at my age was quite surprising. However, Dr. Lynch ran genetic tests that showed I have Lynch Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that made me more susceptible to getting colorectal cancer and that was actually discovered by Dr. Lynch’s father. My initial colorectal cancer treatment In December 2013, I started treatment at MD Anderson. I endured six rounds of a chemotherapy cocktail called FOLFOX-6, which stole my energy and my appetite, and caused neuropathy in my fingers and toes. On Good Friday of 2014, I visited a local emergency room for severe internal bleeding. The doctors got me stabilized so that I could return to MD Anderson for an emergency embolization procedure to stop the bleeding. A few...