Wednesday, April 17

Treasure Coast mother, 38, shares shock of colon cancer diagnosis

Cancer doesn’t care how old you are. That statement was especially true for a young mother of two from the Treasure Coast who received an unexpected diagnosis.

Nicole Maier, 38, recently heard the news that no one wants to hear.

“I don’t remember much from that day, but I remember the doctor telling me that I had colon cancer, and I think the first thing I asked him was, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘Unfortunately, yes. We can tell just by looking at it.’ He was 99% sure.”

She has no family history of disease but started experiencing chronic, nagging abdominal pain last summer.

Finally, she saw a doctor and set up a colonoscopy.

“I almost convinced myself not to go to get it,” Maier said. “[I said to myself] it’s not gonna be a big deal. I can just deal with it. Thank God I didn’t listen to myself, and I went because seven more years would have been too late.”

That’s because colonoscopies aren’t typically recommended until age 45.

“A big thing I’ve learned is cancer does not care how old you are,” Maier said. “It doesn’t care that 45 is the recommended age to start getting screening.”

“The first thought in 38-year-old is not colon cancer. It’s colitis, inflammatory disease. Fortunately, she followed up, had her colonoscopy and was diagnosed,” Dr. Adam Kurtin said.

Kurtin was Maier’s surgeon at HCA Florida St. Lucie Hospital.

He removed her tumor with robotic technology that was performed several days ago.

“The robotic platform really lets us see so much better, see so much more than we ever could before,” Kurtin said. “It gives us so much more precision with our dissection and allows us to remove so much more lymph nodes and tumor than we could remove in the past.”

After just two days of recovering in the hospital, Maier was back home with her children.

“My kids are who I thought about immediately, what this means for them and their future,” Maier said. “I’m going to fight and do whatever I have to do to be here for them.”

Despite the diagnosis, she remains positive about the future.

“I can’t wait for the day where I can just relax and enjoy my family and enjoy my life and not have cancer and beat it,” Maier said. “That’s my goal.”

After her surgery in January, she’s currently undergoing chemotherapy.

She has another positron emission tomography (PET) scan in April.

Below are 5 symptoms that everyone should take note of:

Chronic belly pain Change in bowel habits Bloody stools Diarrhea Chronic fatigue Unexplained weight loss

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your family doctor and perhaps push to see a specialist.

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