Name: Allison Rosen

Age at Diagnosis: 32

Age now: 36

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Allison Rosen was born and raised in the beautiful state of Texas and is a loyal graduate of Texas A&M University. She is your typical young adult who loves sports, animals, hanging out with her friends, and volunteering her time for a good cause. She has worked in the world of Oncology research at Baylor College of Medicine for over 10 years. On June 7th, 2012, at the age of 32 after years of struggling with Crohn’s disease her life was turned upside down after a scope with her GI doctor, when she was diagnosed with Stage 2C colorectal cancer. She had been having some weird bowel symptoms for about a month but had put off her routine yearly scope because she was too busy. Cancer was the last thing on her mind. It wasn’t until things got to the point that she thought she had some sort of blockage in her small intestine that she scheduled her scope and that blockage turned out to be a 13 cm tumor. Having dealt with Crohn’s disease for so many years, blood was normal to her, so she didn’t think twice when she saw blood in her stool. For her what sparked her to investigate what was going on were her bowel habits. She would normally go 10-12 times a day regularly. She knew something was wrong when she went from going to the bathroom all the time to not going at all and it seemed to happen quite fast. So she is an unusual case not only because of her age but also because her symptoms were not typical. She is adamant about trying to get colonoscopies before 50 approved by insurance companies for those that do not already have an underlying disease or reason for them. The scope saved her life and she wants that for others who fear something is wrong. You are never too young to get colon cancer!!

Even though life after the initial surgery was improving for a year, almost 2 years after her first radiation treatment she starting having issues with her kidney, almost going into complete kidney failure. Numerous hospitalizations for a year with various infections and having to spend a birthday in the hospital made Allison determined to figure out what was going on. She searched a finally found a urologist at Baylor, where she works, that really was 100% invested in figuring out the source of these mysterious kidney issues and infections. With the help of her GI Oncology team at Anderson and her urologist at Baylor nephrostomy tubes that she was told would possibly be forever were taken out.  After numerous tests were done she can happily say those tubes are a distant memory and she no longer has to wear long dresses and skirts (even though she made them fashionable). It has been a rough road but she was never willing to give in and always asked questions every step of the way to stay on top of her care.

Even though there seemed to be many more hurdles in her cancer journey than she expected, dealing with one thing at a time with a positive attitude and trusting in her team of doctors got her where she is today. She recently found out that her once temporary illeostomy bag will most likely be permanent as her j-pouch has caused a lot of trouble. Her positive attitude has gotten her through many ups and downs throughout her cancer journey and although this one might take more getting used to she will deal with it the only way she knows how to, with a smile on her face. She knows now after 2 years with a “temporary” bag that she can do everything everyone else can do, it just might be in a different way!!  She recently went surfing with First Descents, white water rafting with her family, and plans to constantly push herself to plan new adventures in her life. All this craziness she has experienced the past few years has helped her realize a new mission in life; to help others and spread awareness about young adult cancers. She volunteers her time and is a part of the Young Adult Advisory Council at MD Anderson, has helping with the Never Too Young Campaign through the Colon Cancer Alliance, and is helps to organize the SCOPE 5K at MD Anderson and the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K with the Colon Cancer Coalition. Her passion for volunteering turned into a more personal mission, and every day that she can help someone endure the struggle of their own cancer journey gives Allison a wonderful sense of accomplishment.