On June 5, 2019 I went to the ER at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC with the worst stomach pain I had ever felt. The cause of the pain was quickly diagnosed. At age 34, I had stage 3C colon cancer. During the time from when I went to the ER until I received my final diagnosis a week later, I had surgery at Sibley, where a baseball-sized tumor was removed from my colon. As my family and I searched for reasons why I had contracted this disease so young -- with no family history of colon cancer -- we discussed what to do next. We luckily came across the Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a new center focused precisely on people like me within one of the world’s most renowned cancer centers. At the time the center was just a few months old.
The Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center, founded and led by the amazing Dr. Kimmie Ng, provides a holistic approach to treatment, focused on people like me—young people grappling with the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. The Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center has provided me with everything I’ve needed to make my 12 rounds of chemotherapy as manageable as possible. In addition to Dr. Ng and her amazing team of nurses, I’ve been provided with a social worker at each treatment, genetic testing to determine if I or future offspring would be at greater risk for multiple cancers, and a dedicated support team who were always on call and ready to answer any questions I had at any time of day or night. After my diagnosis, when it could have easily felt like I had no control, the Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center has made my six months of treatment and the anxiety-inducing aftermath of scans and screenings much more bearable. I have also been lucky to participate in a few of the research studies being led by the Young Onset Center to better understand why young people are getting colon cancer at such a rapid rate, and to find better treatments and eventually cures for this dreaded disease.
I am walking this year in my third Jimmy Fund walk to raise funds for Dr. Ng and the Young Onset center, as well as to raise awareness for young onset colorectal cancer, which will be the leading cancer-related cause of death in 20-49 year olds by 2030. I so appreciate anything you could contribute to this critical, life-saving cause.