Know the Symptoms of Rectal Cancer Before it’s too Late - PIH Health

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Published on March 30, 2015

Radiation Therapy for Rectal Cancer Helped Frances Ruiz

Signs of Rectal Cancer

For months, Frances Ruiz experienced pain so uncomfortable it was hard to even sit down.  Despite several doctor visits, she couldn’t bring herself to face the reality of her symptoms. “I never thought I would get cancer,” said Frances.

Her fears became a reality one day in June when she noticed blood in the shower. Frances’ husband rushed her to PIH Health Whittier Hospital’s Emergency Department and she was admitted for testing. The next morning she was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

After Frances’s diagnosis, she began radiation treatment and therapy at the PIH Health Ruby L. Golleher Oncology Center. Radiation therapy is a highly effective treatment for many types of cancer. It uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are generally two types of radiation therapy – external beam and internal.

External is an advanced treatment method that uses high detailed imaging to precisely define tumors and focus radiation beams on them. Internal radiation treatment involves radioactive materials that are placed directly in the body at the site of the tumor for concentrated exposure. Additional types of radiation therapies include radioisotopes (which is a liquid form used to treat thyroid cancer) and strontium 90 surface radiation therapy (which provides low-dose radiation treatments for eye growths).

For three months, Frances visited the oncology center five days a week for radiation therapy. “At first the machine seemed intimidating because I was unsure of what would happen, but it only took 10 to 15 minutes per session,” Frances says.

She still visits the oncology center for radiation treatments once every few months, and has committed to taking better care of her health not only for herself but for her family. Through the process, she also learned she has Type 2 diabetes. Realizing that if she wanted to see her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grow older, she had to hold herself accountable.

Frances, now 72 years old, finds herself healthier than ever. She has become an advocate for taking control of your health, and will tell anyone who will listen about the importance of prevention and early detection through screenings.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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