ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene father and daughter were both diagnosed with colon cancer just two months a part. Through their story, which some are calling an anomaly, we’ve learned there has been a rise in colon cancer diagnoses in younger patients in our area.
On a typical day, 19-year-old Shayla Roberts and her dad, David are spending their time at home. In previous years, the Roberts would spend their free time going to the record store.
“Me and her, we like a lot of the same music. We collect vinyl,” said David.
While this made their bond strong, the Roberts never expected what was coming for both of them. In March, Shayla went to the emergency room after dealing with severe pain for months. The doctors told Shayla there was a blockage in her colon, and she was later diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer. David told KTAB/KRBC she was just reclassified to stage 4.
“I was just worried. I was just scared in general,” Shayla recalled.
The doctors recommended her entire family get checked, and just two months later, David was diagnosed with colon cancer as well. Now, they are not only facing the challenge of picking out which record they both want to listen to, but they are going through chemotherapy together.
“Now, we’re just alternating weeks. Like, she is currently going through chemo right now, and I will be going next week,” shared David.
While colon cancer can be genetic, Shayla and David have two separate, non-genetic strands.
“That’s the ‘medical mystery,’ as two oncologists have said,” David said.
According to a doctor in gastroenterology at Hendrick Health, Sam Davis, it is highly unusual. In fact, Dr. Davis said Shayla even being diagnosed at 19 is uncommon, but he added there have been a rise in colon cancer cases in younger patients, even here in West Texas.
“Just within the past couple of months, we have seen several cases of colon cancer in patients less than 45 years old,” revealed Dr. Davis.
Those with the average risk should start screening for colon cancer at 45 years old, according to Dr. Davis. But those with higher risk should start even earlier.
Higher risk patients include those who have immediate family with colon cancer, but it can also include those with any inflammatory bowel disease. Other risk factors include obesity, tobacco use, alcohol use, and even high consumption of processed red meat.
According to the CDC, you should seek a physician’s opinion if you notice these colorectal cancer symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits.
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.
- Abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away.
- Weight loss and you don’t know why.
This cancer has been difficult on this single dad and his daughter in many ways. Symptoms, even from chemo, have been affecting Shayla, like pain in her hands in feet.
“Half the time I don’t even like walking around here because it just hurts to walk,” Shayla described.
However, this has also affected the family financially. David told KTAB/KRBC, “It’s just bill after bill and then they kicked her off Medicaid.”
The medical bills have prohibited them from doing the one thing that mainly brought them together: Buying records.
“We haven’t been able to buy anything for a while, but we still go in and say hi,” added David.
Through the hardship, This father said the bond they have from going through this together is priceless.
The family now has a GoFundMe page. They are looking to raise funds to ease their medical bills.