EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Wood) — Colorectal cancer cases are on the rise among young adults.
Deaths of celebrities including ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman and actresses Kirsty Alley I put the spotlight on the disease.Brazilian soccer superstar Pele died Thursday After a battle with colon cancer.
Experts now recommend getting screened at age 45.
“My husband and I got married very young, at 21. We were high school sweethearts, so we started a family young,” said Jenny Cortman of East Grand Rapids.
Two years ago, Cortman and her husband decided there was room for another baby.
“We love kids and being busy and all that. We decided to see what it was like to be an older parent,” Cortman said.
At age 39, Cortman was nearing the third trimester of her pregnancy and received news that her life had been turned upside down.
“I honestly said, ‘I just ruled this out because I had this symptom. I’ve had blood in my stools for over six months,'” she recalls.
The blood was the only symptom she had.At the appointment, doctors told her she likely had colon cancer.
“There is a surprising trend of younger patients that we see in our clinic. Physician Dr. Manish Thakur said:
Age is the biggest risk factor for colon cancer, but a lack of fiber, the type of meat you eat, and a sedentary lifestyle can all increase your risk, Thakur said.
“It’s a combination of factors. So it’s how you live and what you eat. I think these are leading to new changes here,” Thakur said.
Cortman did not have these risk factors.
“I had just turned 39. I am young, healthy and have no family history of that,” she said.
Working together, Cortman’s doctors determined that she needed to give birth to her girl early so she could continue treatment. I was due to give birth at 32 weeks.
“[Doctors]were going to wait a few more weeks for that to happen, but that’s as long as[doctors]are willing to wait for surgery,” Cortman said.
Two weeks after baby Emersyn was born, Kortman underwent bowel surgery. Pathology confirmed that the tumor was stage 3 colorectal cancer. The day after Emersyn was released from neonatal intensive care, Kortman met with an oncologist who told him he would undergo six months of chemotherapy.
One year after treatment, Cortman is in good health. Emershin is 2.
“Honestly, the whole community kind of surrounded us. And honestly, in hindsight, just looking at it, it was actually beautiful,” Cortman said. .
Cortman said he wanted to talk about his case because, since his diagnosis, he’s seen other young people in his circle be diagnosed as well.
“Other moms, other women in their 30s, 40s, 50s. Now it’s on the rise,” Cortman said.
Thakur said the most common symptom of colorectal cancer is none, so the best thing people can do is get screened.
“Yes, I think everyone should get a colonoscopy. No matter how hard it looks, this is a life-saving procedure,” said Thakur.