When people think about colorectal cancer, they often associate it with an older demographic. But Cinnaminson resident Robin Wyszynski found that wasn’t the case when her daughter, Ashlee, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer in her mid-20s.
Ashlee’s medical journey started with a pain on her right side. After it persisted for about a month, she got sick and had to go to the emergency room. The hospital diagnosis was gallstones, and she had her gallbladder removed. But after the procedure, her surgeon saw something on her liver.
“I remember when I met with the surgeon after her gallbladder surgery and he said that he saw something on her liver,” Robin said. “He took a picture and showed me with his finger, but he said he didn’t think it was anything, but he’ll do a biopsy just in case.
“He called me about a week later and he was so upset. He said I needed to bring Ashlee in right away.”
Ashlee immediately saw a colorectal surgeon and was faced with the enormity of her Stage 4 diagnosis. That’s when she and her mother started to understand more about colorectal cancer.
According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing support. awareness and fundraising, by 2030 cases of colorectal cancer in people under 50 are expected to nearly double. The predicted incidence of colon and rectal cancers among 20- to 24-year-olds will increase by 90 to 124 percent by 2030, and young adults are more likely to be diagnosed at Stage 3 or 4.
The incidence of colon and rectal cancers among 35 and 40-year olds will increase by 28 to 46 percent by 2030.
With March designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, Ashlee and Robin thought it would be a good time to share their story. Nervous at first, Ashlee realized that talking about her own experience could potentially help others.
“It’s scary because I see so many young people and kids, even as young as 11, and it’s heartbreaking seeing all of that,” Ashlee noted. “I want to spread the word. If you don’t feel right, go to the doctor and don’t be embarrassed if you have to get a colonoscopy.
“One moment of embarrassment can save your life.”
“If something is wrong, go see a doctor and insist on it because I think that if they didn’t do the gallbladder surgery, they wouldn’t have diagnosed Ashlee until months later,” Robin advised. “We originally went to her primary care doctor and they said she had a pulled muscle and gave her medicine for that.
“We just want to get the word out about it; be aware and listen to your body because it’s really scary,” she added. “We want to encourage people to pay attention to the subtle signs and symptoms of this disease and get a colonoscopy before it is too late.”