Medical research is revealing that colon cancer is on the rise in patients under the age of 50, and one man is on an intensely personal mission to raise awareness of the risks of the disease.
Barely three months after giving birth, Matthew Bradley’s 37-year-old wife Marci started experiencing intestinal discomfort. After several doctor visits and a battery of tests, the family received devastating news that Marci had Stage 4 colon cancer.
“We were in shock. Just bewildered,” Matthew Bradley said.
Even after she began experiencing symptoms, it took a while for Marci to get in for a colonoscopy.
“She had to fight, even with some pretty severe symptoms, to get a colonoscopy,” Matthew said. “One it was done, they found a large tumor that was nearly obstructing her bowel.”
Routine tests for colon cancer generally begin around the age of 50, but cases of the disease are on the rise in people under that age.
“The problem is we’re not screening those that are younger, because they’re not meeting the age criteria,” Dr. Dana Hayden said.
With a newborn baby at home, Marci Bradley made it a priority to spend time with her child even while going through cancer treatments.
“Even when she come home with a chemo pump, she had to (find) enough energy to be with the baby,” he said.
Marci underwent treatment for less than a year, but passed away in the fall of 2018.
Now, her husband is a fierce advocate for early screenings for colon cancer, even for those patients under the age of 50, and he hopes that by sharing her story, more lives will be saved.
“You aren’t too young to get colon cancer,” he said.
Dr. Hayden echoed Bradley’s comments, asking patients not to be embarrassed when it comes to bodily changes and discussing them with your doctor.
“Something that’s persistent, like cramping, abdominal pain, and symptoms that just don’t go away and you can’t really explain, then that’s when you should go seek medical attention,” Dr. Hayden said.