Listen to your body: Michigan woman diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer at 28

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - For many young adults like 30-year-old Kayla Campbell, colon cancer was not on her radar.

Two years ago, Kayla was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer.

Kayla says, “I had bouts of explosive diarrhea but it was post-workout, so I just thought I was pushing my body more than it was used to. I definitely had some constipation, but I’m 28, I was stressed, I work a lot and I was busy. Fatigue, but I look back and think there are so many other reasons I could have been fatigued.”

Kayla also had no family history of colon cancer.

We spoke to Dr. Brian Piazza with the Saint Joseph Health System, who isn’t treating Kayla, but has been helping patients for decades. He says generally, most colorectal cancers are actually found in people without a family history.

Dr Piazza says, “There’s a low percentage of colon cancers which are directly inherited. Just because a person does not have a family history of colon cancer (mother, father, siblings) does not mean that a colon cancer diagnosis is excluded, just on that basis.”

With that, Dr. Piazza says it’s important to know the signs that something may be off.

“Rectal bleeding, bleeding with bowel movements, altered bowel movements like acute diarrhea or more bowel movements a day for a period of 3 weeks, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and weight loss are signs you should see a doctor,” he says.

In two years, Kayla has had three surgeries. For six months, she was cancer free, but it returned this past January.

Kayla says, “It keeps coming back to my abdomen, at this point we don’t know why because every time they open me up, they think they got it all.”

A big focus for Kayla is her home. She’s been renovating’s a major project and a happy distraction from chemotherapy and treatment.

“It has helped so much to know that there is an end goal, not only with chemo but there’s an end goal with my house. As we push through chemo, there’s stuff on the weekends that is getting done here, piece by piece,” Kayla says.

And piece by piece, Kayla is sharing her story in hopes of inspiring others to listen to their bodies and not put off important screenings like colonoscopies.

“It’s such a taboo subject, but it’s so important. When it comes to colonoscopies, the hardest part is the prep, but then again, it’s a day. Cancer is months, it is definitely better than the other flip of the coin.”

If you want to follow Kayla’s journey, head to her Instagram page at: kayla.and.the.big.c

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