A mother from Pennsylvania said that she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer just weeks after giving birth to her first daughter.
In 2015, her husband, Chris, asked Lauren Ricottone of Philadelphia to plan a colonoscopy after she noticed blood droplets when she went to the bathroom.
OHIO MOM DIAGNOSIS WITH COLON CANCER 6 MONTHS AFTER BIRTH
She finally agreed, but on the day of the scheduled procedure, Ricottone, aged 37, was informed that she was pregnant.
"I spent all the preparation on the procedure, including a pregnancy test," said the mother of two at Yahoo Lifestyle. "But by the time I got ready to undergo anesthesia, the results came: I was pregnant."
To ensure the safety of his unborn child, Ricottone decided to postpone the test. A few months later, in January 2016, she gave birth to a healthy girl, named Charlie Elizabeth, with Chris.
But just two weeks later, Ricottone was starting to have serious health problems by informing Yahoo Lifestyle that she had gone to the restroom and that she "was suddenly bleeding all over the place, from rectum to vagina."
"I was so dizzy and weak that I could barely stand up," she added.
As most people would probably assume, Ricottone first thought that she was suffering from postpartum complications or possibly hemorrhoids, which would explain the bleeding. But after undergoing colonoscopy, she would soon be informed of a much more serious diagnosis: colorectal cancer at stage 3B. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Stage 3B is diagnosed when the cancer has developed in or through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have spread in neighboring organs or tissues. It also means that the cancer has spread to three lymph nodes near the primary site, but not to distant organs.
"Even after hearing the news, I was in total shock. I did not cry, I was totally incredulous. I was so young and I had no family history of colon cancer. It did not seem possible. "
"When I woke up as a result of the intervention, the nurse hugged me and told me that she was going to have my husband, which would have me." "Seemed weird," said Ricottone. "Even after hearing the news, I was in total shock. I did not cry, I was totally incredulous. I was so young and I had no family history of colon cancer. It did not seem possible. "
The new mother then underwent surgery to remove the tumor from her colon. Ricottone claimed that her surgeon was so fat that she "perforated my intestine in a few days".
The Ricottone operation was followed by six months of chemotherapy, which ended in February 2017. Shortly after, 37 years was admitted to the ER for a stomach virus. And during her stay at the hospital, Ricottone was again informed that she was pregnant – this time with a boy.
"I had never had my period, but I had just thought that chemotherapy had put me in premature menopause," she said.
At that time, Ricottone was still undergoing scans to make sure the cancer had not returned. She chose to put future CT scans on hold until she gave birth. In September 2017, about a month after the birth of his son Michael, an analysis revealed that the cancer had spread to his lungs.
"I found myself again with a newborn baby and a diagnosis of cancer," she said, adding that her family and friends helped the family "take care of themselves 24 hours a day."
After at least one surgery and several chemotherapy treatments, Ricottone got a remission where she stayed for 16 months, according to Yahoo Lifestyle.
Symptoms of colon cancer usually include rectal bleeding, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and "persistent abdominal discomfort," among other signs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Although the majority of people diagnosed with this type of cancer are typically 50 years old or older, a 2017 study published in the National Cancer Institute's Journal found that colon cancer and rectal cancer "occur at an increasing rate in young adults and in the United States, "according to the American Cancer Society, which led the study. In response, the company lowered the recommended age of 50 to 45 years for colorectal cancer screening.
Ricottone, a registered nurse, is now encouraging early detection and awareness of colon cancer.
MAMAN DIAGNOSED WITH COLON CANCER INVITES OTHERS TO DETECT EARLY
"Even some doctors will evacuate bleeding in a 30-year-old hemorrhoid. But it should still always be verified by a colonoscopy, "she said.
Ricottone added, "I have so much to live on – every time I come home from work and see my children so healthy and so happy, it motivates me to keep fighting."