Listen to your body: Avon mom diagnosed with colorectal cancer after giving birth

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AVON, Ohio– It was one of the happiest times of her life.

But just six months after giving birth to her daughter Isabella last year, Clarissa Sobolewski of Avon, knew something was terribly wrong.

“I was moved by God to talk about polyps because my parents had polyps at 50. And doctors were like, we really don’t test for that until 50.”

At just 41-years old, the married mother of three was younger than the recommended age by the American Cancer Society to get a colonoscopy. But she persisted and her worst nightmare turned out to be true: stage 1 colon cancer.

“And I was perfectly fine with anything happening, because everybody already lived their life with me, but my daughter was the only one who had not. So my pain really came with her,” Sobolewski.

Colorectal cancer symptoms depend on the size and location of the cancer. The symptoms may include changes in bowel habits, stomach discomfort and blood in the stool.

“She had recently had a child, and soon after that, she developed rectal bleeding. And common story in females in delivery after having a child is that it’s from hemorrhoids,” said Dr. Bradley J. Champagne, Sobolewski’s surgeon.

The Cleveland Clinic physician said Sobolewski was among the small percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer at an early age. The surgery to remove the cancer was a success. No chemotherapy needed.

“When the tumor is limited to the wall itself and has not penetrated to or got into the lymph nodes, it’s rare that we give chemotherapy,” Champagne said.

Sobolewski is now living her life to the fullest as a stay-athome mom. Her advice to everyone: Listen to your body.

“It comes down to that, you know, it’s like do you feel like you need to get tested for something or are you gonna ignore your feeling.”

The American Cancer Society now says colon cancer screenings should begin at the age of 45, while other agencies still recommend colonoscopy screenings at age 50.

Doctors stress colon cancer is not a death sentence if caught early, with survival rates as high as 95 percent.

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