All of March, we recognize National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Knowledge on screenings, prevention and treatment are crucial as cases rise in young adults.

Stacie Cain was diagnosed at 51-years-old with Stage 3C adenocarinoma at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you first hear that you have cancer, its devastating,” Cain said. “I feel like my whole world fell apart.

Several risk factors for colon cancer fall heavily on ones lifestyle:

Living a sedentary lifestyle Diet full of processed foods Eating little to no vegetables Alcohol/tobacco consumption.

Working long hours as a nurse, Cain says she had an unhealthy lifestyle; eating poorly and being inactive.

She had no prior symptoms and was overdue for a routine colonoscopy.

After her initial visit, she was referred to a surgeon who spotted a 40-millimeter sized tumor that needed to come out immediately.

My whole world changed. She said it was cancer,” said Cain. “Were not gonna play around with it, were gonna take the whole thing out. So, I went in for surgery like the next week.

Now at 55-years-old, Cain is nearing remission after almost five-years since her diagnosis.

Cain tells me shes lucky to be alive to share her story, but her journey with colon cancer isnt over.

I go for my scheduled screenings and all and its the real deal,” said Cain. “It creates a lot of anxiety and I call it scanxiety so its real, its what if always in the back of my head.

It wasn’t hard for Cain to quit her bad habits because she knew she had to fight this and take care of her daughter who was in college at the time.

Noting that while she misses having a few Girl Scout Cookies, she knows her clean eating habits are for the better.

The American Cancer Society wants people with an average risk of colorectal cancer to start screening by the age of 45 and say those with a higher risk should start screening before that.

Katie Hawbaker, was 47-years-old when her doctor told her to consider screening for colon cancer.

After consideration, Hawbaker decided to use a Cologuard test rather than a colonoscopy.

“Once you get thrown into this world and you meet so many people like I did at the Cologuard Classic and other sort of community-based gatherings,” Hawbaker said. “You realize how much people are dealing with in their 20s and 30s. I do feel like dropping the age to 45 was a huge step, but I feel like we could go even further since so many cases are being detected these days.”

She was surprised to see a positive test being that she had no prior symptoms, but there wasn’t any denying of the mass that was found in her descending colon.

Hawbaker had surgery to remove the mass in October 2023 around Halloween. The intensive procedure left her out of work for some time.

We were able just to remove the portion of my colon and then with testing on making sure my lungs, and liver and lymph nodes were okay, they all looked good.

With Hawbaker in the clear, shes headstrong on spreading awareness for early screenings across all ages.

“Moving forward, I just need to watch the area and make sure that nothing comes back,” said Cain. “I feel incredibly lucky, incredibly lucky.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer for men and women in the United States.

106,590 new cases of colon cancer are estimated in the year 2024, per the American Cancer Society.