PITTSBURGH - A local woman wants her delayed colon cancer diagnosis to be a lesson for other people.
Denelle Suranski said she started feeling issues and changes to her body as a teenager. Fifteen years ago, doctors told her those changes she felt were not serious. This continued for three years.
Finally, after her father was diagnosed with colon cancer, doctors took a closer look. Suranski had stage 2 colon cancer and was thrust into the fight of her life. Fifteen years later, she's healthy, sharing her story around the country. She's begging millennials and doctors to realize colon cancer can happen to anyone, at any age.
"With young adults, it's on the rise," Suranski said of colon cancer. "Whenever they are screened, sometimes it becomes stage 4 and it results in death."
Channel 11 took her concerns to Dr. Edward Chu at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. He said Suranski isn't wrong. One in nine patients is now diagnosed before age 50.
"We see so many of the youngsters now on the video games," Dr. Chu said. "They're not as active, which we now know also contributes to colon cancer."
One in nine is not the only concerning statistic. According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, 67 percent of young colon cancer survivors said they saw at least two doctors before being diagnosed. Sixty-three percent didn't talk to their doctor for at least three months after noticing symptoms, like diarrhea, bleeding and vomiting.
"It's an embarrassing and humiliating disease and people don't like to talk about it, until you've been through it," Suranski said.
She wants to change that and thinks her experience can help.
"It might be 15 years later, but I feel like I have a voice now," she said.
Suranski is using that voice in her mission to light Downtown Pittsburgh in blue to mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March. She's trying to push the city to do so. Channel 11 is reaching out to the city to see if this can happen. To find out more information on colon cancer symptoms and conversations to have with your doctor, go to ccalliance.org.
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