Mum’s warning after shock diagnosis
A YOUNG mother's video message urging others to listen to their bodies and get their symptoms checked has gone viral after she shared that she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Jennifer Waller, 32, a nurse in New Jersey, said she had been suffering from weight loss and abdominal discomfort that could have been dismissed as symptoms of living a busy life.
Despite her young age she was given a colonoscopy and woke four hours later to hear that she had cancer.
"When I woke up he told me I had a large tumour," Ms Waller, a single mum to two young children, said in her August 29 video.
"It was a shock because I can't have cancer. I'm a nurse. I take care of people. I tell people you have cancer. I treat you. I can't have cancer. Yet here I am, saying the words that make me so nauseas."
Ms Waller said that she had previously had her breasts checked, and many blood tests run before getting the colonoscopy.
It says most people with bowel cancer are over 50, and the risk increases with age. Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, having a diet high in red meat (particularly processed meats such as salami or ham), drinking alcohol and smoking can also increase risk of the disease.
In the US, the guidelines recommend patients get screened for colon cancer beginning at age 50, which Ms Waller said would have been too late.
"I made this video because here in the US you don't screen until you're 50 years old. That's 18 years from now," she said.
"I mean, according to my biopsy, I would be dead. And if I hadn't gone in and if hadn't been aware of my body, I would have been dead."
Ms Waller's video has been viewed more than 23,000 times since she posted it, and co-workers started a GoFundMe to help her cover any lost wages during her time off for treatment.
"You think about things you never want to think about," she said in her video. "Who will take care of my children? What will I do? Can I afford treatments? Can I afford being off from work? I mean it's crazy. I wanted to make this video to make people aware of it because I think there are a lot of feelings that come with it that you can't necessarily stomach."
Ms Waller did not share the specifics of her diagnosis, but said that it was spreading quickly and that she has made a vow to stay positive during treatment.
"I'm not going to be a victim," she said. "I'm not going to feel bad for myself. I'm going to fight. I'm going to fight like hell and no matter where this road brings me, and no matter where I end up I'm always going to be on top. So cancer, let's dance. I'm ready."
In Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free screening kits to Australians aged 50-74.