Moms are probably the most over-worked people, juggling work, children, and the home. A mom’s schedule is 24-7 – the work never stops, which means feeling exhausted comes with the territory. But feeling extra-tired doesn’t usually send alarm bells to something serious; feeling run down is typical for many women who are multi-tasking.
But for Jennifer Waller, the exhaustion meant something much more dangerous.
As a working mom of two, and a nurse to boot, Waller didn’t think much of her feeling exhausted. Her job was to take care of others, so she never dreamed the real cause of her feeling a little run down was a condition that was much more than just low blood sugar, or low iron levels.
“I mean, I work two jobs, I have two children and I run around like a crazy person,” she said.
"I knew something was off."
For a while, she thought it was just exhaustion, then thought she had ulcerative colitis. She had her breasts checked. Then, Waller explained that she went in for a colonoscopy after experiencing what she called “vague” symptoms, including stomach pain and weight loss.
But it was colon cancer.
“So I would normally never put something so private on this platform but I feel the need to make people aware of getting screened early for Colon Cancer,” Waller said in a video posted to Facebook, which is now going viral.
“I was diagnosed with malignant cancer 6 days ago and I want to make sure other young people get screened so please share this video (which was so difficult to make) and get checked yourself.”
“When I woke up and [the doctor] told me I had a large tumor, it was a complete shock, because I can’t have cancer. I mean, I’m a nurse. I take care of people. I tell you if you have cancer. I treat you. I can’t have cancer. Yet, here I am.”
“It’s spreading fast,” she added. “Who gets cancer at 32?”
Waller wants to urge others not to ignore their feelings of exhaustion, especially other women who do too much.
She's telling others to take their symptoms seriously, and ask your doctor to be tested and screened early for illnesses such as colon cancer. If she had followed screening guidelines for colon cancer, she said, she would certainly have died.
“I made this video because here in the United States, you don’t screen until you are 50 years old,” she said. That is 18 years from now. According to my biopsy, I would be dead. If I hadn’t gone in… I would have been dead.”