Doctors say colon cancers in young men and women are on the rise but catching it early can drastically improve your odds of beating it.
That's why Stephanie King of Arlington is sharing her story about how a single decision saved her life.
King says she knew at that some point, she'd have to get a colonoscopy, as doctors recommend the colon cancer screening for African Americans at age 45 and everyone else at age 50.
"I was nervous about going to get a colonoscopy," she said.
Even though she was nervous, she didn't hesitate to get the procedure done at the first signs that something wasn't right.
"I started having stomach pains and one day, I stayed in bed with really bad stomach pains and I couldn't eat anything and then I started throwing up," she said.
The colonoscopy she'd been so nervous about revealed a large tumor that, if not removed right away, would have led to a difficult cancer battle.
"It would have spread to her lymph nodes and she was literally just one stage away from needing chemotherapy," said her surgeon, Dr. Christopher Dwyer at Medical City Arlington.
He says unlike King, many patients wait too long at the first signs of symptoms and that's part of the reason why colon cancer rates among younger people are on the rise.
"We are catching earlier colon cancers in the older population but we are missing in the colon cancers that are showing up and having symptoms in younger people, so that they actually present at a later stage with a much more advanced cancer when they're younger," he said.
"It's not that we should start screening earlier. We should start listening to our bodies and getting the word out to primary care providers and the patients themselves."
Because King listened to her body, she only needed surgery to free her of cancer.
"I'm so thankful and happy that I did go ahead and get the procedure done," said King.
"I have my beautiful grand-baby Aniya. She's 8-months-old and we love her to death and I'm just happy that I'll be here to help my son and his wife continue to take care of her. I'm so so happy and thankful," she said.
Check out the six colon cancer warning signs you should never ignore here.