Colorectal cancer taught me to listen to my body

I started finding blood in my stool in the fall of 2013, but at the time, it didn’t seem that strange to me. Constipation runs in my family, and I’ve always been easily constipated. But water’s my solution to everything, so I figured I just needed to drink more of it. A few months later, I started feeling really out of breath after even the slightest activity, and whenever I lifted something heavy, I’d throw up right afterwards. My family told me I looked really pale, and I’d lost a lot of weight. Finally, I went to the doctor. Blood tests showed that my hemoglobin levels were so low, I should have been in a coma. I was admitted to the hospital right away. Additional tests showed I was losing blood from my colon, so I received six units of it immediately, just to replace what I’d lost. The next day, I had an endoscopy and a colonoscopy to find the source of the bleeding. The second test revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball in my colon, which had spread to a few nearby lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer. Why I came to MD Anderson At first, I couldn’t believe this was really happening. I was only 19 and had just graduated from high school. But the tumor was real, and my local doctors did micro-surgery through my belly button to remove it. They also recommended six months of chemotherapy. By this time, I realized I wanted a second opinion, so I came to MD Anderson. People travel to MD Anderson...