Colon Club Board Member Profile: Ashley Flynn

July 7, 2019

Hi everyone! Take a seat, sit back, and prepare to be shocked as I tell you a little bit about myself and this evil thing called colorectal cancer.

I believe that colon cancer entered my life in 2008 when I was 21 years old. It was during this time, that I was having small amounts of infrequent blood in my poo. I brushed it off as if it was nothing. However, the blood was becoming more frequent and over time, my poop began to change consistency. Over the next few months and even years, I went to see multiple doctors who diagnosed me with everything from constipation to hemorrhoids to colitis. Never once was the word cancer or colonoscopy
mentioned until I was bleeding for over three years. Finally, a physician agreed it was time for a colonoscopy.

On October 10, 2011, a golf ball sized tumor was found in my rectum. I was officially diagnosed with cancer at 24. I just was starting my career as a nurse and staying out until the wee hours of the morning on the weekends with friends and thoroughly enjoying life. This came to a screeching halt on
that day.

Rectal cancer brought about spending hours in waiting rooms, numerous doctor appointments, loneliness, multiple surgeries, too many needle pokes to count, anxiety, poisoning chemotherapy, fear, butt-burning radiation, gut wrenching side effects, poop bags (a.k.a. an ostomy), and lifelong infertility. I could go on, but you get the drift. It was during my 13 months of treatment that I discovered The Colon Club.

I vividly remember sitting on the couch in my living room searching for any and all colorectal cancer websites and organizations that I could find. When I found The Colon Club, my jaw dropped and remaining colon smiled. This was the first time I was reading about people my age that had the same diagnosis as me. Not only was I able to find information about colorectal cancer, I also discovered The Colondar, a calendar featuring colorectal cancer survivors under the age of 50. I said to myself, “I am going to be in that calendar next year.”

Fast forward, I completed treatment and had my ileostomy reversed in November 2012. I applied to be a featured survivor in the Colondar in 2014 and was SELECTED! Even with only 5% of my rectum, I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet. During the photoshoot for the Colondar, it was fun being
pampered. But mostly, it was truly such a therapeutic experience meeting people who understood me and what I had experienced.

The Colon Club has had such an impact on my life that I knew I wanted to continue to be active in the group. In 2016, I joined the Colon Club Board of Directors and currently serve as the board secretary. My aspiration is to continue to connect with those facing the dreaded colorectal cancer diagnosis and give them hope that there is normalcy after. The Colon Club made this a reality for not only me, but all those affected by colorectal cancer, especially those under the age of 50!

I am happy to say that in October 2019, I will celebrate 8 years since diagnosis and remain cancer-free!