Another Young Patient Determined
to Beat The Odds

Manal Ghamlouche

Back in 2015, giving birth to my child and being a busy mom, I ignored some very basic symptoms of colon cancer such as cramps, stomach pains, constant bloating etc.. But then again, many people complain from this all the time so I didn’t think much of it. Years before of this, I was having constant decline in my iron levels until the point where it became dangerously low, and I needed to be in the hospital to get transfusions in order to keep my iron levels up.

My doctor initially kept blaming it on not enough iron in my diet telling me to eat more spinach, for example, and also blamed it on my menstrual cycle. However, when I look back now on my blood work, my iron was completely off, and I am really surprised this was not investigated further but I had 100% trust in the doctors and the system. But I was a young patient and this likely accounted for the attitude. Not one doctor investigated the source of my very low iron and all I was given were short term remedies rather then true root cause for the low iron levels. So taking iron pills up to 3 pills a day for years and years, I was unable to see any blood in my stool.

In 2018, when my son was 3 years of age, I saw drops of blood in my stool and I knew something was wrong but I dismissed it until I saw more blood and that is when I went to the emergency one day.

That day was when I was told I had cancer after they did a CT scan to identify the root cause. I ended up getting my surgery and my treatment for stage 3 colon cancer at North York General hospital. My fears of this disease and having a young child was challenging. I desperately wanted to reach out to someone or some support group to help me get through this. As much as I can say my family was supportive, I needed to talk to people who knew my disease and were going through what I was going through. I remember being referred to Filomena’s group and this is when our relationship started. She was amazing, accommodating and from the beginning made me feel so comfortable, welcome and at ease. Going to those support group meetings and getting reassurance and advice from her (obviously on top of my oncologist) was invaluable and helped me understand my disease better and deal with my fears and feelings.

I want everyone who reads this and is diagnosed with colorectal cancer or knows someone who is diagnosed with colorectal cancer to know that there is help out there, there is hope and there are people you can talk to about your journey. I am 3 years out from my disease now, being monitored and feeling better and optimistic that one day I can put this behind me. Please know that you are not alone. Together, we can do this.

Manal Ghamlouche

Stage III Survivor