Do You Serially Self-Diagnose? Woman Finds Out She Has Stage 4 Colon Cancer After Assuming She Has Diarrhea For Months
When Diana Zepeda, a young woman from Washington, DC, began to have frequent stomach cramps in 2016, she assumed it was normal food poisoning. As a regular patroniser of a food truck, she was used to the occasional diarrhea.
Woman thought stomach problems were caused by too many food truck meals https://t.co/kuQPXxAzUX
— NBC News Health (@NBCNewsHealth) March 28, 2018
Too young for colon cancer
Zepeda was in her early 30s. She had no reason to believe she had colon cancer. And so, her first reaction was changing her diet and eliminating grains, dairy, and sugar.
But it got worse. In weeks, she began to see blood in her stool. This was when she realized it was time to see a doctor.
After waiting for an appointment for 2 months, she finally began to treat for E.coli, a bacteria found in contaminated food and water, responsible for diarrhea. Zepeda went through two rounds of treatment.
The story of Diana Zepeda, a 34-year-old DC resident who survived a surprise diagnosis of stage-IV colon cancer, has been shared in numerous outlets worldwide. Here is @people's take: https://t.co/x6nqOWXAhR pic.twitter.com/WKwMhrsp3K
— Colorectal Cancer Alliance (@CCAlliance) April 4, 2018
When she did not show any signs of improvement the second time round, her doctor suggested that it was time to do a colonoscopy.
A disturbing trend
According to the cancer survivor, her first reaction was disbelief. She believed she was too young to have colon cancer at 33, but her doctor’s diagnosis revealed a stage 4 cancer.
The disease is known to affect people above 65. However, experts say more young people are at risk of colon cancer.
The Washingtonian cites a report by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable which states that between 1994 and 2012, colon cancer has increased by 51 percent in those ages 20-49.
Leading Gastrointestinal Cancer expert, Dr. John Marshall, also said that adopting healthier lifestyle did not seem to be affecting the disturbing trend.
It’s marathon-running, cardboard-eating patients. They’re doing everything right, and they’re still getting colon cancer.
In fact, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable projects that in 2018, around 97,220 new cases of colon cancer are expected to be diagnosed. They peg the estimated deaths from colorectal cancer at 50,630.
As for Zepeda, a significant portion of her digestive system was removed, and she had to undergo a six-month chemotherapy regimen. The DC resident is looking forward to a future free of colon cancer and finds comfort in the cancer support group she belongs to. However, she will not be given a clean bill of health until she crosses the 5 year survival window without a recurrence.
Be on the lookout for symptoms
Dr. Marshall believes that the seemingly great health choices people make play a role in depleting the microbiome, the body's coral reef.
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Habits like taking antibiotics as a child, washing our hands too much, or not eating enough plants may be responsible for this depletion. But even this is inconclusive, as research work is ongoing.
Still, experts advice that people should be on the lookout for bowel behavior changes. This includes diarrhea, constipation, or different consistency in your stool that lasts longer than 4 weeks.
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Sustained abdominal discomfort, gassiness, cramps, rectal bleeding are also warning signs that require immediate medical attention.
While Zepeda regrets not getting tested earlier, you should not ignore or downplay the signs. Do the right thing today!
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.