LIBERTY, Mo. — Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
March is colon cancer awareness month. More than 140,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and it's on the rise in people younger than 50 years-old.
In 2017, Beth Heide was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Heide, then 44, didn't quite fit the script and waited months for a colonoscopy. When she woke up from the procedure, Heide's life changed forever.
"[The doctor] said, 'I need to send samples of what we found to lab, but I want to tell you that probably there's a baseball sized tumor that we found in your colon and I'm 98% sure that it's malignant,'" Heide, an ambassador with Fight Colorectal Cancer Ambassador, said.
Heide's doctor said the tumor most likely started forming when she was just 30 years-old. She turned to her family at home and at work in the Liberty School District where she's the assistant superintendent.
"We're honest with each other," she said. "We cry, we talk, we laugh, we hope, we pray and you always want a miracle right, so there's always hope for a miracle."
One in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 are not up to date with their screenings, according to data from the American Cancer Society. As an ambassador for Fight Colorectal Cancer, Heide is sharing her story to send a message.
"Almost all insurance companies pay for colonoscopies now at 45, so please go get it done," Heide said.
Even after several surgeries, Heide said she will undergo chemotherapy for the rest of her life.
If found early, the American Cancer Society said colon cancer can be treated and even prevented.
"I don't want anybody to ever go through what my family and I are going through," Heide said.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults have a colon cancer screening at the age of 45. People with a family history of colon cancer should talk to a doctor.