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38-Year-Old Colon Cancer Survivor Re-Writes Her Outlook On Life

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Carla Deschamps, now 38, survived colon cancer & wrote a book about her battle Image Courtesy of Hackensack University Medical Center via Newswise
Carla Deschamps, now 38, survived colon cancer & wrote a book about her battle Image Courtesy of Hackensack University Medical Center via Newswise
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By Hackensack Meridian Health 

NEWSWISE – Hackensack, NJ – Carla Deschamps of North Bergen admits she had never heard of a colonoscopy. It wasn’t talked about within her friend group. It hadn’t come up for discussion with her doctor yet. She was still more than a decade away from the recommended age for screening. 

So when the 34 year old went to the emergency department at Hackensack University Medical Center at the urging of her brother – who was doing his medical residency there – for pain from what she thought was appendicitis, she got the shock of a lifetime.

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“When Dr. George Mazpule first diagnosed me, he said you’re not going home. He told me I had colon cancer and needed to schedule me for emergency surgery ASAP,” Carla recalled.

The seemingly healthy school counselor was now in the fight of her life. And thus began a whirlwind of testing, meeting with oncologists, surgery and months of treatment for colorectal cancer – a disease diagnosed more than 153,000 times in 2023, accounting for 7.8% of all new cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Carla’s was Stage 2.

“It was very hard for me to process that. I was in denial. It didn’t hit me until after the surgery. And then I learned there was a history of colon cancer in my family,” Carla said.

New research released by the American Cancer Society shows cancer patients are increasingly shifting from older to middle-aged individuals, especially colon cancer patients. “The rise in cases in people Carla’s age is alarming,” says Dr. Mazpule, robotic surgical specialist who performed her surgery. “As we continue to investigate why colon cancer is rising in younger adults, I recommend screening for people between 45 and 49, especially for those with a genetic predisposition for colon cancer.”

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Four years later now at age 38, thanks in part to the treatment by the renowned oncology staff at The John Theurer Cancer Centerthat treated Carla at Palisades Medical Center, she is not only surviving cancer free, but she is thriving. 

Dr. Tracy Proverbs Singh is the best doctor I could have had. She was knowledgeable and nurturing. She and the entire team have given me unconditional support since day one. I am blessed to have had such an extraordinary team supporting me throughout this journey,” she said.  

It’s a journey that helped her rewrite her entire outlook on life, which she outlines in her new book entitled, The Power Of A Healing Heart.

In this book, Carla shares details about her diagnoses and treatment at a time COVID-19 was ramping up, the physical and mental toll of the disease and how she dug deep to keep moving forward through affirmations, meditation, visualization and self love. She also includes journal entries from the days that made up the most trying time of her life.

“I want others to know they are strong, I want them to know their history and the risks. I want to make a difference in people’s lives.” 

With Colon Cancer Awareness Month upon us, Carla hopes by sharing her experience she will be able to inspire and encourage others who are dealing with their own health challenges or heartbreak. 

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