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Home / Health / Pennsylvania mom mistakes colon cancer symptoms for hemorrhoids, shares ‘shocking’ story to warn others

Pennsylvania mom mistakes colon cancer symptoms for hemorrhoids, shares ‘shocking’ story to warn others



A mother in Pennsylvania said she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer just weeks after giving birth to her first daughter.

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5, Lauren Ricottone, of Philadelphia, was urged by her husband, Chris, to schedule a colonoscopy after noticing droplets of blood during the use of the bathroom.

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Eventually accepted, but on the day of the scheduled procedure Ricottone, now 37, was informed that she was pregnant.

"I spent all the preparation for the procedure, including a pregnancy test," the mother of two told Yahoo Lifestyle. "But just as I was preparing for anesthesia, the results came: I was pregnant."

To ensure the safety of his unborn child, Ricottone decided to postpone the test. Months later, in January 2016, she gave birth to a healthy girl whom she and Chris called Charlie Elizabeth.

But only two weeks later, Ricottone began to have serious health complications, telling Yahoo Lifestyle that he went to the bathroom and "suddenly there was blood everywhere, both from my rectum and from the vagina."

" I was so dizzy and weak that I could barely stand up, "he added.

As most would probably presume, Ricottone thought before having the post-delivery complications or perhaps had hemorrhoids, which would explain the bleeding. But after undergoing a colonoscopy, she would soon be informed of a much more serious diagnosis: stage 3B colorectal cancer. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, phase 3B is diagnosed when the cancer has grown in or more through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have spread to nearby organs or tissues. It also means that the tumor has spread to up to three lymph nodes near the primary site, but has not spread to distant organs.

"Even after receiving the news, I was in a state of total shock. I didn't cry – I was incredulous. I was so young and I didn't have a family history of colon cancer. It didn't seem possible."

– Lauren Ricottone

"When I woke up from the procedure, the nurse hugged me and told me she was taking my husband, which I thought was strange," Ricottone said. "Even after receiving the news, I was completely shocked. I didn't cry – I was incredulous. I was so young and I didn't have a family history of colon cancer. It didn't seem possible."

The new mom underwent a surgery to remove the tumor in his colon, which Ricottone claims his surgeon said was so big "would have punctured my gut in a few days."

Ricottone surgery was followed by six months of chemotherapy , which ended in February 2017. Not long after, the 37-year-old was admitted to the emergency room for a stomach virus. And during his stay in the hospital, Ricottone was again informed that she was pregnant – this time with a boy.

"I had never recovered my period, but I had just thought that chemotherapy had put me in premature menopause," he said.

At that time, Ricottone was still subjected to CT scans to make sure the cancer had not returned. He chose to suspend future TC scans until he gave birth. In September 2017, about a month after giving birth to his son Michael, a scan revealed that the cancer had spread to his lungs.

"Here I am again, with a newborn and a diagnosis of cancer," he said, adding family and friends they helped the family with "24 hour care".

After performing at least one surgery and one chemotherapy treatment, Ricottone obtained remission, where it remained for 16 months, according to Yahoo Lifestyle.

typically include rectal bleeding, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss and "persistent abdominal discomfort", among other signs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Although most people diagnosed with this type of cancer are generally 50 or older, a 2017 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that colon cancer and rectal cancer occur "at an increasing rate among young and middle-aged adults in the United States", according to the American C Ancer Society, which led the study. In response, the company lowered the recommended age for colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45.

Ricottone, a professional nurse, now encourages early screening and raises awareness about colon cancer.

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"Even some doctors will eliminate bleeding in a thirty year old as a hemorrhoid. But it should always be checked with a colonoscopy," he said.

Ricottone added: "I have so much to live – every time I come home from work and see my children so healthy and happy, it motivates me to keep fighting."


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