You may have heard the heartbreaking story of Nathan and Elisa Bond, a Brooklyn, New York couple who was diagnosed with cancer within days of each other.  Nathan, 38, was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer in February, then, just nine days later, received the terrible news that Elisa, 36, had stage 4 breast cancer.

Though it’s very rare for people as young as Nathan and Elisa to have colorectal or breast cancer, particularly if there’s no family history of it, it does happen on occasion, which is why early detection is crucial in cancer treatment and recovery.  In its earliest stages, colorectal cancer often exhibits no symptoms.  However, some symptoms include changes in bowel movements, such as color or consistency, abdominal discomfort and bloating, fatigue and unexplained weight loss.  Colorectal cancer symptoms often resemble those of less serious conditions, so it’s important to see a doctor if symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks.  Patients who are diagnosed at stage 1 have a 90% chance of survival five years after treatment, while at stage 4 that chance drops to less than 7%, with the cancer considered incurable.

Annual mammograms are usually recommended only to women over 40 or who have a family history of breast cancer, but women of all ages should be encouraged to perform regular breast examinations at home.  Any growths in the breasts should be addressed by a physician as soon as possible.  Though the vast majority of breast lumps are unrelated to cancer, those that are malignant may spread to the lymph nodes, lungs and other organs without treatment, so no lump should go ignored.  Women with stage 1 breast cancer have an excellent prognosis, with a survival rate of over 90%, and rarely require chemotherapy for treatment.  Stage 4 requires much more aggressive treatment, and has a survival rate of less than 20%.

The risk of both colorectal and breast cancer, as well as many other cancers can be lowered by not smoking, keeping alcohol use to a minimum, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight and diet.  However, nothing is more efficient than regular checkups with your doctor, and acknowledging when something just doesn’t feel right.  Nathan and Elisa’s story seems unthinkable, but the truth is that cancer can impact most families at some point.  The good news is that with efficient, timely care and treatment, most people with cancer can recover and go on with their lives, but it’s up to us to make the first move and see a doctor.

Gena Radcliffe

Medex Supply Blogger

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  • Jennifer R.

    That is sooo sad. Nathan and Elisa, you are in my prayers!