Young Woman Fights Colon Cancer with a Smile

Young Woman Fights Colon Cancer with a Smile

Jessica Gabaldon, 34, is not letting her illness sideline her from working as a hazardous waste inspector supervisor at the Arkansas Department Of Environmental Quality.
        It is another  day at work for 34 year old Jessica Gabaldon.  She's a hazardous waste inspector supervisor at the Arkansas Department Of Environmental Quality.  She amazed coworkers as she battles stage four colon cancer.
       
        She tells Fox16's Donna Terrell that the biggest thing for her is, "I'm not going to have something control me. I'm in control of my own life. I've found that cancer doesn't define me." 
       
        Jessica's cancer wasn't discovered initially. She was having problems with what she thought was her gall bladder and some constipation.  

        Then it took a while to get an appointment with her doctor. But when she finally went in for what she thought was a gall bladder ultra sound doctors found several masses on her liver indicating her colon cancer had spread.

        Donna asked Jessica what did she think when she was told she had cancer.  Her response was that she was too young for colon cancer. 

        A thought many doctors share, including CARTI Oncologist Dr. Rhonda Gentry. "I think the problem is in young people it's not on our radar as much as it is in an older patients.  So if a young person has some bowel irregularities and abdominal complaints, colon cancer isn't high on our list to look for it.

        The American Cancer Society has started a push to get 80 percent of people 50 and up  to have a colonoscopy by the year 2018.  That does not include people under 50 who get colon cancer.

        To address this, a representative from the American Cancer Society tells me one thing it plans to do is teach young people to pay closer attention to changes in their bodies.  To notice if something is different and not be afraid to push their doctors to check it out thoroughly. And that's something Jessica wants everyone to know.

She tells people,  "If you're having any type of abdominal issues or stool discoloration or pains that just don't feel right, go to your doctor."
 
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