Diana Zepeda of Washington, D.C., says she initially thought her abdominal pain was due to an unhealthy diet. But a trip to the doctor led to a much grosser diagnosis for the 34-year-olds.
"I thought I could eat anything and have a stomach of steel, I got what I thought was accidental food poisoning, but somehow often, lots of gas, cramps and diarrhea," says Zepeda People. "I just thought I had one of those stomach bugs and it would only take a few days."
She adds, "I thought I could fix it with diet, I thought that was my problem, so I spent a whole month sorting out cereals and dairy and sugar and I'm like," That's it What my body needs and it will disappear! "[1
96592002] Nevertheless, over three months, Zepeda's symptoms got worse. In January 2017, Zepeda suffered diarrhea every day and even found blood in her stool, she says. She decided to meet with a gastroenterologist and tests showed that Zepeda had E. coli. But the prescribed antibiotics for the disease did not help.
"At first I was relieved that whatever it was could be cured with five days of antibiotics … I thought it was over … happy to see But that was not the case, "she says. "I was afraid of whatever the actual diagnosis would be."
Soon a doctor planned a colonoscopy for Zepeda. But while she was prepared for the procedure, she suffered from severe vomiting, stomach cramps and nausea. So the doctors decided to give Zepeda a sigmoidoscopy (a partial colonoscopy). That was when they made a shocking discovery: There was a tumor blocking Zepeda's colon.
Doctors diagnosed Zepeda with stage 4 colon cancer
"After the initial shock and disbelief, my first thoughts were: what did I do wrong to get it?" Because I think everyone thinks of colon cancer as an old one Folk disease, "says Zepeda." I thought, 'Was it all the microwave pop tarts I ate at school? Or the whole microwave Lean kitchen? What did I do to cause this?
The cancer spread to her liver, and Zepeda spent the next six months undergoing chemotherapy and a series of surgeries, saying that the experience left her feeling "completely exhausted."  ] Diana Zepeda “/>
"I did not have the strength to go for almost a month. I was bedridden. The hardest part was definitely chemo … After the very first treatment I was ready to quit. I felt really depressed and really isolated. I said, "I can not do that, I've been through enough, I can not make it six months."
But she did. Zepeda celebrated her last treatment on Thursday. To celebrate the big day, she and her husband Alexander Sweeney wore formal clothes at the hospital.
"At first I was very confused because I thought I could not do it," she recalls. "Then I went, just like," I have to finish whatever it takes. "And here I am, I just finished today!"
Although Zepeda is about to undergo another surgery and it will be a few more years before she is officially in remission, Zepeda says she is upset to return to her life again.
"I really miss traveling and I'm busy with friends," she tells PEOPLE. "I've skipped everything and I've had FOMO [fear of missing out] for about nine months and I'm looking forward to getting back to normal as much as possible."
Now Zepeda tells her story about the awareness of "young" colon cancer to hone. Colorectal Cancer Alliance researchers want to find out why more young people are suffering from the disease. According to the CCA, people under the age of 50 have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at least four times as often as in 1990, citing the American Cancer Society .