Listen to your body
“I was 35 years old when I started seeing some blood in my stool,” says Cameron Kalunian, whose primary care physician sent Cameron to a gastroenterologist to determine the cause. “They performed a sigmoidoscopy, which is a less invasive test than a colonoscopy. They found a large tumor at my colorectal junction.”
Kalunian underwent colorectal surgery in late 2019, with Jonathan Sack, MD, who found a tumor and treated it. Kalunian was declared in remission within a month.
Because Kalunian took quick action upon seeing symptoms, his colon cancer was identified in stage 1.
“They did my surgery laparoscopically, so I only have a tiny scar on my abdomen. I was impressed with how cutting-edge all the technology at UCLA Health was,” he says. “My anesthesiologist, rather than putting me on a morphine drip or IV for pain medication, gave me a spinal tap. So I had a lesser dosage of medicine, which meant I was less likely to have complications. I was home three days after the surgery and was back at work within two weeks of my surgery. Every aspect of the care I received was thorough and reassuring. I felt the comprehensive care and felt that my interests were being taken care of.”
Initially, Kalunian says, he assumed because he was young there was no way he could have colon cancer.
“I didn’t have a family history, but I had seen in the media that there is a higher prevalence of early-onset colon cancer,” he says. “I think there are a lot of stigmas associated with the testing. Ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal. I think, now, I’ve had four colonoscopies and you get better at it each time. You know what to expect and it’s not scary. The most important thing is, if you have symptoms to follow up on them. Listen to your body. Blood in the stool is something to pay attention to and take very seriously.”