““A friend of mine passed away from colon cancer this week. She was 39. Two years ago, after marrying his amazing wife, she asked her doctor for a colonoscopy. Her father had died young in colon cancer, putting my friend at higher risk, and it was on her mind. She wanted a screening. She was told no.”
A Twitter TWTR,
The thread about a woman who recently died at age 39 of colorectal cancer has shed light on the appropriate age to start screening for this often deadly disease. It has also raised questions about how seriously the medical system takes women’s health issues.
Washington Post reporter Caitlin Gibson shared the story of the woman, a friend of hers, on the social media platform on Monday. The thread has since received thousands of retweets.
Gibson said her friend thought she was at higher risk for colorectal cancer because her father had died of the disease. Gibson noted that her friend, who remains anonymous, sought to get a colonoscopy two years ago, but her “insurance wouldn’t pay for it.”
Additionally, Gibson said when her friend started experiencing abdominal pain, doctors told her it was likely gallbladder related. By the time her friend was finally diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the disease had already progressed to stage four.
“She wasn’t surprised. She was furious,” Gibson wrote. “And for anyone who loves her, fury adds a whole new dimension to grief. It should have been preventable, had she had access to the early screenings she knew she needed because of her hereditary risk.
Gibson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from MarketWatch.
“ “It should have been preventable, had she had access to the early screenings she knew she needed because of her hereditary risk.””
Colorectal cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimated that 149,500 new cases would be diagnosed in 2021, resulting in 52,980 deaths. This makes the disease the second deadliest form of cancer in the United States
And colorectal cancer rates in people under 50 are on the rise, according to the American Cancer Society. The issue was particularly discussed when beloved ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman died of the disease at the age of 43.
Last year, a leading medical group advised that colorectal cancer screenings should start at age 45 instead of the previous recommendation of age 50.
In addition to the issue of colorectal cancer affecting young people, Gibson’s thread also highlighted the challenges that many people face when dealing with the medical system.
“This system is so deeply broken,” Gibson wrote. “Especially for women, whose intuition and pain are not taken seriously. Especially for people who don’t have the right kind of access, money or privileges.
Such questions have been raised by many others. For instance, a study in the journal “Academic Emergency Medicine” found that women seeking help for severe stomach pain had to wait in the emergency room significantly longer than men with the same problem.
And those who responded to Gibson’s thread recounted being misdiagnosed or ignored by doctors, only to face serious consequences, such as eventually finding out they had skin, breast or colon cancer.
Gibson’s thread included a link to a poem, “Antidotes to Fear of Death,” by Rebecca Elson. As its title suggests, the poem offers a vision of hope, comfort and bravery in the face of death.
“A truly amazing poem,” Gibson wrote.