Woman diagnosed with stage 3 cancer after ignoring one ‘embarrassing symptom’

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A woman has bravely shared her journey after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, urging others not to overlook seemingly minor symptoms.

Jelena Tompkins, hailing from Colorado, USA, was just 34 years old in 2016 when she noticed a change in her body. Initially attributing the change to her healthy lifestyle, she brushed aside concerns about her increasingly foul-smelling gas, assuming it was due to her vegetable-rich diet.

Despite trying probiotics to balance her gut health, the odor persisted. It wasn’t until she observed blood in her stool months later that she grew alarmed. Even then, during her annual check-up, her doctor attributed it to dietary factors.

Only after three months of tests aimed at identifying potential food intolerances did Jelena undergo a colonoscopy, revealing the devastating diagnosis of stage 3 rectal cancer.

“I was in the peak of my health, maintaining a nutritious diet, and cancer was the last thing on my mind at that age,” Jelena shared with The Patient Story.

Opting for a rigorous treatment plan, Jelena endured 28 days of radiation and oral chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the tumor. The procedure involved the removal of 12 inches of her colon and 17 lymph nodes, leaving behind five cancerous nodes.

Subsequently, Jelena underwent an ileostomy, a surgical procedure creating an opening in the abdomen for waste elimination.

Two months post-chemotherapy, she underwent reversal surgery for the ileostomy.

Despite having no family history of cancer, Jelena found herself battling the disease. Now in remission, she undergoes maintenance chemotherapy and regular scans.

Initially, Jelena’s medical appointments were frequent, gradually tapering off to yearly check-ups. She emphasizes the crucial role of social media in finding support from others navigating similar journeys.

“I connected with so many others that had either finished treatment or were going through treatment at the same time as myself to just have that support group and know I wasn’t the only young woman that was going through this,” she reflected.

Jelena’s story underscores the importance of heeding warning signs and seeking medical attention promptly.

For confidential support, individuals affected by cancer can reach out to Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line at 0808 808 00 00, available from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week.

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