Jennifer Waller, pictured with her two children, said her symptoms could have been easily dismissed.
A 32-year-old mother’s video message urging others to listen to their bodies and get their symptoms checked has gone viral after she shared that she was diagnosed with colon cancer just days prior. Jennifer Waller, a nurse in New Jersey, said she had been suffering from weight loss and abdominal discomfort that could have been dismissed as symptoms of living a busy life.
Despite her young age she was given a colonoscopy and woke four hours later to hear that she had cancer.
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“When I woke up he told me I had a large tumor,” Waller, a single mom to two young children, said in her Aug. 29 video. “It was a shock because I can’t have cancer. I’m a nurse. I take care of people. I tell people you have cancer. I treat you. I can’t have cancer. Yet here I am, saying the words that make me so nauseas.”
Waller said that she had previously had her breasts checked, and many blood tests run before getting the colonoscopy. According to the American Cancer Society, individuals who are overweight or obese, are physically inactive, eat a diet high in red meat, smoke or have heavy alcohol abuse may be at a higher risk for colon cancer.
In the U.S., the guidelines recommend patients get screened for colon cancer beginning at age 50, which Waller said would have been too late.
“I made this video because here in the U.S. you don’t screen until you’re 50 years old. That’s 18 years from now,” she said. “I mean, according to my biopsy, I would be dead. And if I hadn’t gone in and if hadn’t been aware of my body, I would have been dead.”
Waller’s video has been viewed more than 23,000 times since she posted it, and co-workers started a GoFundMe to help her cover any lost wages during her time off for treatment.
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“You think about things you never want to think about,” she said in her video. “Who will take care of my children? What will I do? Can I afford treatments? Can I afford being off from work? I mean it’s crazy. I wanted to make this video to make people aware of it because I think theyre are a lot of feelings that come with it that you can’t necessarily stomach.”
Waller did not share the specifics of her diagnosis, but said that it was spreading quickly and that she has made a vow to stay positive during treatment.
“I’m not going to be a victim,” she said. “I’m not going to feel bad for myself. I’m going to fight. I’m going to fight like hell and no matter where this road brings me, and no matter where I end up I’m always going to be on top. So cancer, let’s dance. I’m ready.”