WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, and while the form of cancer is normally associated with people in their 50’s, there is a growing number of younger people being diagnosed.

It includes Tia Jones. Jones is a science teacher, a mom, and a mom to be. She doesn’t take a lot of time to sit down and rest. She is young, strong and healthy, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I think at any age it rocks your world, but it’s doubly confusing when you are young and find out that you have a potentially life threatening disease,” said Jones.

With no family history and living a healthy lifestyle, Tia was blind-sided when she was diagnosed with stage two colon cancer at only 28 years old.

“I was healthy at the time. I was exercising and eating right, and I thought I was doing all the things that would keep me away from cancer.”

Colon cancer is not typically thought of as a young persons disease, but that’s no longer the case. Rates among young adults are rising at an alarming rate. According to the National Cancer Institute, by 2030 cancer rates in people 20-34 years old will increase by 90 percent.

“I was misdiagnosed for a number of years.”

Because regular screenings are not recommended for people under the age of 50, these cancers are often more advanced.

“It really doesn’t matter what age you are, this still can effect you,” said Jones. “You have to listen to your body and take the steps to find out why you may be feeling pain.”

Tia underwent major surgery and six months of chemo to fight a cancer that many thought she was too young to have, a disease that could have ended her life. Now cancer free for eight years, she’s able to look forward into a future that seems just a bit more sweeter when she reflects on her past.

“You don’t go unchanged after going through something as major as that. You definitely appreciate life a little more.”

Researchers say that colon cancer is showing up in younger adults mainly due to diet and lack of exercise. But as you saw with Tia, the diagnosis can happen for anyone. Doctors advise that regardless of age people should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Take any symptoms seriously. There is no such thing as normal rectal bleeding. If you notice blood, a change in the color or size of your stool, a new pain, or a change in your bowel habits, get checked out by a doctor. Most of the time the cause is not cancer, but it’s important to find out the cause, just in case it is.

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