Dawn Eicher was just 36 when doctors told her she had stage IV colorectal cancer.
Perhaps equally frightening is the fact that Eicher says she had plenty of warning signs that went unexamined.
"In fact, my classic symptoms were ignored from the age of 21!" she writes on her Change.org petition.
Her petition asks the United States Congress to lower the screening age for colon cancer from 50 to 20 years old, as an early diagnostic test could have saved her, and others like her, from developing to an advanced stage.
In the United States, colon cancer claims more than 53,500 lives.
And nearly 145,000 men and women will be diagnosed just this year. But with proper screening, colon cancer found in its earliest stages is "survived by almost 90 percent of patients," according to the the Colon Cancer Coalition.
"[The petition] means everything to me... my whole goal in this is just to try to save lives," Eicher tells A+.
With new forms of screening, like Cologuard blood testing, as well as colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies, there are ways to detect the cancer — And it should start when you're young.
"Had I been offered any of these when I had initial symptoms, maybe I wouldn't have been diagnosed at an advanced stage," Eicher writes on her petition.
The petition already has nearly 70,000 signatures, but it's not enough.
"The survivors that I've met have thanked me because they finally feel like they have a voice."
Eicher tells A+ that colon cancer has become taboo simply because people don't like talking about colonoscopies. But through her efforts, she hopes the importance of early screenings will gain more attention.
March is also Colon Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to raise awareness.
It's a cause we can all get behind.
There, cancer survivors, caregivers, and families can make their voices heard, and Eicher will present her petition.
"My biggest message is to listen to your body," Eicher tells A+. "If something is not right, insist that [doctors] exhaust all their efforts."
Because "you're never too young."
To sign the petition, click here.
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