Doctor discovers her own stage four colon cancer

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Back in 2022, Dr Lauren Juyia felt “a little tired” in the afternoons. “As a mum with two little kids,” she began. “I didn’t think anything of saying, ‘Oh, I think I need a tea in the afternoon’.” She had recently been nursing her children, who were still waking up during the night, and worked full time.

After two months of fatigue, which she attributed to the demands of normal life, Dr Juyia experienced “pelvic heaviness”.

Talking on Good Morning America, the gynaecologist, 38, recognised that she needed to be checked over.

Booking herself in for an ultrasound, the doctor noticed a startling mass.

“Having a background in obstetrics,” said Dr Juyia. “We describe size by weeks of pregnancy and, so, I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I have a 16-week-size mass’.”

From her professional experience, Dr Juyia could tell that the mass was on her ovary, leading her to think that it could be ovarian cancer.

As her mass grew from 8cm to 24cm in two weeks, she was booked in for surgery to remove the mass.

Yet, the tumour had spread to the ovaries, uterus omentum, appendix, and abdominal area.

At 37, the mum from Florida, US, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.

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Having gone through six months of chemotherapy, in March of this year, Dr Juyia’s most recent check-up involved removing an inactive tumour.

So far, tests have shown “no [further] evidence of disease” so, now, the doctor wants to raise awareness about the symptoms of colon cancer.

While older adults “would be much more tired from stage four tumours”, younger people might feel more “resilient”.

Dr Juyia explained: “We might not have any symptoms because we are young, our bodies are more resilient. We can tolerate more symptoms.”

In England, everyone aged 60 to 74 (who is registered with a GP) is invited for colon (i.e. bowel) cancer screening every two years.

The NHS says: “The programme is expanding to make it available to everyone aged 50 to 59 years. This is happening gradually over four years and started in April 2021.”

Dr Juyia said: “People that are younger than the screening age should still be paying attention to symptoms.

“And if you are in the range that you should be screened, take advantage of that. Don’t squander that opportunity.”

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