Experts say colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger people, which is why the recommended age for starting screening has dropped from 50 to 45.
WALKERTOWN, NC – Colon cancer is known to be a disease of the elderly. Typical patients are diagnosed in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. WFMY News 2’s Julie Luck was diagnosed at the end of January at 50, but patients are getting younger. The late Black Panthers star Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed at 39. This is the story of a triad patient who was younger.
Kenny and Christian Eisenhauer by Walkertown met in their early 20s. For Kenny, he knew early on in their relationship that she was the one.
“I saw her and have been following her ever since. Eight months later, I was ready to propose to her,” Kenny Eisenhauer said.
The two met in 2008 and married two years later. It was smooth sailing for the next decade of statewide and countrywide vacations. Lasting memories were also made at home in the triad. Their relationship grew stronger over the years.
“I’m not going to say every marriage is perfect, but this one is as perfect as it can get for me,” Kenny said.
A change of course in 2021 as the couple encountered their most difficult obstacle. Christian inexplicably collapsed at work. A three-week hospital stay later revealed that she had colon cancer.
“From being healthy, exercising and eating well, to stage four cancer with little to no symptoms and no family history. That’s a lot and can be overwhelming at times,” Christian said in a video recording.
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Christian was diagnosed at the age of 36 when she became part of an alarming trend. Experts say a growing number of colorectal cancer patients are younger than ever. Last year, the US Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended age to start screening from 50 to 45. Henry Danis, a gastroenterologist and medical director at the LeBauer Endoscopy Center in Greensboro, says the rise in cases is shocking.
“It’s alarming, it really is, and what’s particularly alarming is when you find it in people who have had symptoms that weren’t very suspicious.”
The American Cancer Society says that colon cancer rates have increased in adults ages 20 to 39 since the mid-1980s and in adults ages 40 to 54 since the mid-1990s, with younger age groups seeing the sharpest increases. Experts don’t know what’s causing the rise in colon cancer in younger patients, but there are many risk factors, including obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, and moderate to heavy drinking. Other factors beyond your control include a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, and inherited syndromes.
“I know there are pressing questions about why we’re seeing more colon cancer and young people, and my goodness, we wish we knew, but we probably won’t know for a long time,” said Dr. danis
Christian’s cancer path was also full of uncertainty. She blogged about her struggle and its many ups and downs at christianeisenhauer.blogspot.com.
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“I was the last person anyone expected this to happen, so why did this happen to me and there is no answer,” Christian said in a July 2021 recording.
She also helped other cancer patients such as WFMY News 2’s Julie Luck. Christian offered advice, shared treatment tips and explained what to expect. In one of numerous Instagram messages, she wrote to Julie: “I don’t want to scare anyone but I think the truth just helps you be more prepared.”
After numerous rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries on her liver and colon, Christian’s pain turned into a party to celebrate her latest treatment.
“The recovery is going really well. I feel really good and I’m grateful for that. I can try to lead a normal life again and maybe go back to work,” Christian said in a video blog in January 2022.
The celebrations turned to sadness just a month later when two tiny spots appeared on her lungs and metastasized.
“She went from clean to quarters in her liver and dimes in her lungs that weren’t there 30 days ago. I think we have a serious problem now how that’s growing and spreading and that’s going crazy,” Kenny said.
Further rounds of chemotherapy, various drugs, and experimental drugs failed to stop the cancer. Christian blogged about her prognosis in July 2022.
“That’s what I’m going to focus on now,” Christian wrote. “Spending time with the people I love and using the time I have left to create memories with them. It could take a few weeks. It could be a few months, I’m not entirely sure, but if I had to guess I’d say it probably won’t be that long.”
Three weeks after the video was published, Christian died. She passed away on August 9, 2022 after battling cancer for almost a year and a half. she was 38
Kenny is now alone at their home in Walkertown, where he and Christian wanted to grow old together.
“The hardest part is being in the house and it’s empty and it’s just me there,” Kenny said.
He is a widower at the age of 34 who is now finding a new path. The love of his life is already at its final destination.
“I just want you to know that God still has a plan for me. I know where I’m going and I’m grateful when I get there I won’t have to deal with cancer anymore,” Christian said in her latest blog video.
There’s a message she and her family wanted to share. For researchers to better understand why younger people are being diagnosed and to emphasize the importance of screening. Colonoscopies can save lives by finding and removing precancerous polyps before they turn into cancer. If colon cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is at least 90 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. One in three people is not up to date with colorectal cancer screening. The Fight Colorectal Cancer organization says 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented with screening. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/health/walkertown-woman-diagnosed-with-stage-iv-colon-cancer-at-36/83-43897d81-e491-477e-8ac9-e2560e8fbee6 Woman from Walkertown diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer