Although the incident started quite a few years ago, Julissa Catalán has only recently told the story about her sister, Emma. As explained, no one in the family really knew anything was potentially wrong until Emma and her older sisters were out on a jog one day.
“They quickly ducked into a nearby fast-food restaurant, and when Emma came out of the restroom the back of her pants was soaked in blood,” Julissa wrote. “There was no hiding it anymore.”
As it turns out, Emma had been suffering from a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, she had ignored them as she didn’t have health insurance and merely thought it wasn’t all that bad. The symptoms included:
- Blood in her stool
- Frequent burping
- Swollen Stomach
“Wouldn’t most of us ignore a little increase in belching and diarrhea, assuming we just overate or have food sensitivities?” Julissa asked. “We might attribute fatigue to a bad night’s sleep and treat it with some coffee. We could assume PMS is causing the bloating and cramping, and maybe, like my sister, be too embarrassed to acknowledge the blood each time we went to the bathroom.”
After the incident in the bathroom, Emma decided to get checked out, but doctors thought she simply had colitis. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. After suffering for a few years afterwards, she finally got a colonoscopy that would reveal the worst possible news. Within two days of the test, she was diagnosed with stage IV Colon cancer and given six months to live.
Emma immediately changed many things in her life. By eating organic, cutting out sweets, and making it a point to walk everywhere, Emma was able to hang on for an additional 5 years. Unfortunately, she would later succumb to the illness in 2010. “In those five years, I watched the person closest to me fight for her life while dying right in front of me at the same time,” Julissa wrote.
The worst part in all this is that Julissa believes her sister could have survived if she hadn’t ignored the symptoms for so long. Saying that the cancer could have been treated aggressively Emma’s sister says that she probably stood a good chance at beating the illness in the long run. Although Julissa feels that Emma’s story is one worth telling, she’s hoping that others use it as a lesson.