“This all started when I had some pain in my abdomen. The doctor appointment couldn’t have come soon enough; I wanted to find out what this pain was and get rid of it!

The doctor hypothesized that the pain was most likely from an ulcer in my stomach, and colitis in my intestines, which is a fancy word for an infection. He wanted to do an endoscopy as well as a colonoscopy while we were at it just to check out the infection there. Before they started to put me under he and I chatted. I told him about the pain having mostly gone, and he reiterated that he believed he would find an ulcer.

I only remember a small portion of the meeting with the doctor when I was coming out of the sedation, so the following is mostly what my mom relayed to me after the fact. The endoscopy (esophagus and stomach) appeared to be fine. There was no evidence of any ulcers or cause for me to be in pain. My colon however, in the words of the doctor, “was a mess…” He explained that he had found a “hemorrhagic, ulcerated mass in the hepatic flexure of my colon” (bloody and hard), and in his opinion it appeared to be cancerous.IMG_1579

The results from the biopsy he took would either confirm or refute this. He said over and over that what he found had completely taken him by surprise, you don’t see colon cancer in someone my age.

The next day the doctor read off the results from pathology. I also had several polyps, some of which he removed. He started with the good news that all but two of those tested positive for precancerous cells, and then confirmed what we were all hoping wouldn’t be true that the large tumor was cancerous.

Colon Cancer….. colon cancer? This is a short list of risk factors:

-Diets low in fruits and vegetables
-Diets high in red or processed meats
-Physical Inactivity
-Obesity
-Smoking
-Heavy Alcohol Use
-Diabetes
-90% of colon cancer patients are over the age of 50

Later that night, my husband and I were eating dinner; it was the first chance we really had to sit and talk about our feelings and what we are going to do. Naturally the conversation turned to “Why?” After about 30 seconds we decided it was a pointless conversation to continue. My answer is that it doesn’t really matter, and I’ll drive myself crazy in the meantime trying to figure it out. Yes, I don’t meet any of the known risk factors, and I’m only 25, but for whatever reason this is mine to own now. “

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Susan passed away from stage 4 colon cancer on December 5, 2008, a short 5 months after her cancer diagnosis. She left this earth at the young age of 25 having been married only 11 months.–Susan, from her blog (The Lemonade Makers)

Susan had none of the known risk factors for colon cancer. She was an athlete and healthy eater with no family history of the disease. But like she so eloquently said, for whatever reason this was hers to own.

Throughout her life, Susan actively sought opportunities for service, whether to those she knew closely or others she did not know. She was a champion of inclusion and reaching out to make others feel blessed and loved. She loved meeting new friends, and those who were close to her were continually amazed at the number of friends she had in numerous cities where she travelled. Susan touched the life of each person she met at home and around the world. She possessed a cheerful spirit and contagious smile, even in the midst of her illness. We will always remember her example and the impact of her kindness on our lives.

Susan is greatly missed by all who had the wonderful opportunity to have her in their life, even for such a short time. In honor of Susan’s goodness, we, her family members, have started the Susan M Turley Foundation. We hope to honor her by supporting other young adult cancer patients in their battle.

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We love you Suz and every day you are missed.

— The Mortensen Family