I’m Brooks Bell and I have stage III colon cancer.

 
 
 

I’m now making it my mission to educate other young people about the importance of getting colonoscopies to catch colon cancer early—or even prevent it entirely.

The amazing thing about colon cancer is that it can grow for months or even years as a pre-cancerous polyp. Colonoscopies can find and remove those polyps, if you catch them in time.

Since I was diagnosed earlier this year, I’ve learned several stunning facts about colon cancer:

  • Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and has the second-highest number of deaths, only behind lung cancer.

    Source: American Cancer Society

  • 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetime.

    Source: American Cancer Society

  • Shockingly, since 1994, the number of people under age 55 who are diagnosed with colon cancer has risen by 51%.

    Source: American Cancer Society

  • It’s predicted that between now and 2030, the incidence of colon cancer in people aged 20 - 35 will rise by an unbelievable 90%.

    Source: JAMA Surgery

In a nutshell, something about the world we’re living in has made it much more common for people under 55 to get colon cancer.

After reading about colon cancer survivors, I’ve found that many of their stories parallel:

A patient has blood in their stool or stomach pain for months or years before finally being referred for a colonoscopy. In many cases, they’re told that their symptoms are probably caused by hemorrhoids.

I saw two doctors and neither suggested a colonoscopy. Eventually I cold-called a gastroenterologist and requested the colonoscopy that led to my diagnosis.

Fortunately, because I acted quickly, my cancer is still treatable and has a very high survival rate. If I had waited longer, my prognosis would be far worse.

Unfortunately, many people under 50 who get colonoscopies keep it a secret, making the process of getting a colonoscopy even more mysterious and scary for those who may be experiencing symptoms.

I saw two doctors and neither suggested a colonoscopy.

50 Colonoscopies Under 50 is a campaign to demystify the process of getting a colonoscopy. It also celebrates young people who have gotten the procedure. Our goal is to help others realize it’s not a big deal to get a colonoscopy; actually, it may very well save your life.

2019 marks our inaugural Bullet Dodgers list - made up of those who raise their hand to be a part of our 50 Colonoscopies under 50 Campaign.

If you’re under 50 years old, have had a colonoscopy in the last 3 years, and are willing to share your story to help empower other young people, add your name to the list.

You can also get on the list by pledging to get screened within the next year.

All participants will be recognized on our website and in person at the 50 Colonoscopies Under 50 gala to be held next year.

I know that fulfillment in life is often achieved from overcoming a meaningful challenge. As I face this particular challenge, I am especially grateful for the continued support of my family and husband, my clients, my team and my community.

Thank you all.

Hear Brooks’s story in her own words and her perspective on life following her cancer diagnosis.

 
 
 
 

 

Interested in joining Brooks Bell’s Bullet Dodgers?

 

 
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Brooks Bell
Founder & Executive Chairman,
Brooks Bell Inc.

Read a detailed account of Brooks’s diagnosis on Medium.