Man diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at 29 shares what symptoms he experienced
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Featured Image Credit: Brendan Menapace
A man who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer has spoken about the symptoms that warned him something was wrong.
Brendan Menapace was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
As you can imagine, the news came as quite a shock - especially for a healthy, happy-go-lucky, young guy.
But Brendan had been experiencing some strange symptoms in the summer of 2021 that made him realise he should probably go and see and doctor.
Brendan was sent for a colonoscopy in October 2021, and as soon as he woke up, he got the bad news.
"The doctor-shaped figure looked at me and said, 'We found a mass in your colon. I’ll be right back'," Brendan wrote in his blog.
"'Wait,' I said. 'What? How big?'"
"He first made his hands into a circle, demonstrating the normal size of my colon, and then made his hands into a slightly smaller circle, demonstrating how big the mass was. There wasn’t a huge difference."
After getting over the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, Brendan immediately got cracking on treatment.
"I rush-scheduled approximately 300 more appointments over the next few days, borrowed another friend’s car to get to them all, signed up for the most expensive health insurance offered by my job, told my friends and family and coworkers everything, had a port surgically implanted into my chest to fast-track chemo to my jugular, and ended up in the chemo chair two weeks later."
Looking back, Brendan is able to pinpoint some key symptoms that were 'textbook' signs that something was wrong.
For one thing he could hardly eat a thing.
As soon as Brendan took a bite of something he 'immediately would want to lay down,' he told Today.
Sometimes, eating would make Brendan feel so awful it actually made him drowsy.
The second obvious symptom was the blood that started appearing in his stool.
And thirdly, during a vacation trip, he realised he couldn't sit down for more than an hour and a half
More than a year on from his cancer diagnosis, filled with lots of chemo and radiotherapy appointments, Brendan says he is feeling better.
"My hair’s shorter, but that was my choice this time. I’m a little skinnier, but I’m gaining pounds back by the day and I’m eating better," he writes in his blog.
"I can’t lift quite as much weight as I could before, but I can go to the gym for more than 20 minutes without needing to lie down. Got a few scars on my stomach and a little less mileage of large intestine, but you’d never know that at first glance."
Although recent PET scans show no evidence of cancer lurking in his body, Brendan won't be declared cancer-free until he hits the five-year mark.
"Eventually, I’ll officially get the all-clear, they’ll remove that chemo port I have poking out under my collarbone, and I’ll keep living my life," he says.
"It’ll be a little different than I pictured when I was a kid, but isn’t that the whole point of life?"
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact American Cancer Society’s support line on 1-800-227-2345 or alternatively, you can visit their livechat through their website Monday-Friday 7AM - 6:30PM