OLATHE, Kan. - When Ashley Havlena was only 21 years old, she noticed blood when she went to the bathroom. Countless doctors misdiagnosed her for three years.
"It wasn't until three years later that I was told I should get a colonoscopy," Havlena said.
Then Havlena's life changed with a phone call. On the other end was news that she had stage-three colorectal cancer at age 24.
"I don't even know what was running through my mind. It was running a million miles a minute, things such as, 'Am I going to die? What's the treatment for this? What's the survival rate?'" Havlena explained. "I was just really scared."
For fourteen months, Havlena endured radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, more chemo, and one final surgery to reverse her ileostomy.
"I never want to go through that again," she said.
Today Havlena's healthy, but haunted by her cancer.
"I really don't think things are ever gonna be normal because there's not a single day that goes by that I don't think of it coming back," she said.
Havlena believes her diagnosis would have been different if she hadn't waited three years for a colonoscopy. She wants to spread the word to other young people to get checked if they suspect something`s wrong.
"You need to be your own advocate. Only you know you best," said Havlena.
To spread the word, she`s showing her scars along with eleven others under 50 in the "Colondar."
"I just want people to understand how important every day is, and you never know when that phone call will come that will completely change your life," she explained.
The point is anyone can get colorectal cancer.
To find out more about the "Colondar," click on this link.