Melissa Williams

Melissa Williams and daughter at a marathon

My Journey through colorectal cancer

Melissa Williams, Healthcare Plan Specialist, University Human Resources, IU Bloomington

I am a Colorectal Cancer Survivor. In 2017 I began to experience some sporadic unusual bleeding and after a couple of months talked to one of my physicians at that time. It was deemed as likely nothing but if I was still experiencing symptoms in 3 months to contact them back. Then after 3 months I had an appointment with my primary care doctor for my annual checkup. At the end of my checkup I mentioned that I had been having some bleeding for about the last 6 months. He did a quick check in the office but didn't see much. He said that he would like for me to get a colonoscopy just to be on the safe side.

A week and half later I was having my first colonoscopy at age 39; it was a Thursday. The next evening, while sitting at my youngest daughter’s gymnastics practice, I received a call from the gastroenterologist. I got up to take the call outside of the gym and was given the option to either talk on the phone or wait until Monday to meet him in the office. I'm not the type of person to want to wait for results and opted to talk on the phone.

I don't recall much of the actual words that were said after hearing, "You have cancer." As I listened to him I was in shock. I was only 39, ate healthy, worked out, and generally took good care of myself. How was this possible? After receiving the news my primary care doctor personally called me on Saturday. He wanted to check on me and tell me how sorry he was — he never would have thought that would have been my diagnosis. Usually screening for colorectal cancer begins around age 45. But a recent study found that the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing in young adults like me. 

My hope is that my story can help even just one person to not endure this.