HOUSTON — Jonathon Bialas was diagnosed with colon cancer at just 28 years old.
It's something he never saw coming at such a young age.
It all started with a pain in his abdomen in the middle of the night.
“It just kept getting worse and worse and worse until eventually, I had to go to the emergency room," Bialias said. "They told me I had diverticulosis, which is for those people who don’t know, it’s like a pocket in your intestines. They thought it became inflamed.”
After a visit with a gastroenterologist and a colonoscopy procedure, doctors later found a tumor wrapped around Jonathon's colon. A biopsy showed it was stage 3 cancer.
“He is 28 years old. He is a very young patient," said UT Physicians Colorectal Surgeon Dr. Marianne Cusick. "Unfortunately, it is something that we are seeing not uncommonly.”
Cusick said it's a trend that's started over the last eight to 10 years. Why younger people are developing it remains a mystery.
“There’s about a one and three chance that I’m unfortunately not going to make it five years," Bialias said. "Which is ... it puts life in perspective. When you hear people talking about how awful it is getting older, and I just really wish I could make it to 35.”
Bialias is doing what he can to increase his chances of survival. Before his diagnosis, he was once a heavy smoker and moderate drinker. He's changed those habits and his diet, which has resulted in him losing a lot of weight.
“Jonathon’s cancer had already spread," Cusick said. "So it wasn’t just involved in the colon ... it started to be in the lymph nodes. It had not reached the blood supply or other organs yet and that definitely changes the survival rate.”
Bialias is expected to begin chemotherapy soon, which will increase his survival, but he will need to be monitored more closely.
“It happened to me, it can happen to anyone," he said. "I mean, people like to think of cancer as, how to put it, an old person's disease, but it’s not.”
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