Shannon Sylvain’s life immediately changed when her doctor called her one evening with bad news and which marked the beginning of her long-term battle with colorectal cancer, commonly known as colon cancer.
“My doctor asked me if was sitting down,” Sylvain remembered. “After telling her ‘yes,’ I recall her voice cracking when she said that they saw evidence of colorectal cancer during the procedure.”
This was last year, and Sylvian was 31-years-old. She had a colonoscopy done.
“Colonoscopy is something that everybody should get at least once … colorectal cancer is considered as the silent killer since there aren’t really, big symptoms,” explains Sylvain.
Colonoscopy process cost Sylvain $3,000 out of her pocket. The testing was not covered by the insurance because she didn’t meet the age requirement, (for most companies is 50). Also, she had not yet met her insurance deductible.
She recalls her doctor telling her that colorectal cancer can be prevented but disproportionately affects the Blacks for two primary reasons: “Access to good doctors and financial resources.”
“That information was very startling to me as colorectal cancer can be prevented and you do not have to die from it even if diagnosed,” Sylvain shared.
The most recent report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that both Black men and women experience the highest rate of getting colorectal cancer, followed by the whites, then Hispanics.
Sylvain had her first surgery for the stage IV colorectal cancer last April, and shortly later she started daily radiation for two months. Sylvain endured the chemotherapy for another six months till she was informed at the last year’s end that she was cancer-free.
Sadly, March 2017 Sylvain encountered another barrier on her recovery journey. She was notified that the colorectal cancer is now developing in her liver.
Sylvian admits “It was terrible for my family, but we’re believers and will continue praying through this … I know that my God would not put more on me than what I can bare.”
As a way to increase awareness and provide financial support for colonic screenings, Sylvian founded a non-profit organization, called ‘Brown Sugar Rehab.’ The organization intends to educate on preventative health strategies, excessive sugar consumption, and finance those in need of testing.
Among the disease’s common symptoms include fatigue, blood in your stool, stomachaches, and constipation; however many of these symptoms seem to be regular pains that can result in few people realizing that they require getting a colonoscopy.
Sylvian is planning to release a series of public service announcements that feature celebrities like Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aisha Hinds.
“My biggest aim is prevention. If we can have a conversation and be well educated about colorectal cancer, then it can be a conversation which is easy to have with your family, friends and amongst other people,” said, Sylvain.