Survivor, Louisville TikTok influencer shares story of colon cancer diagnosis at age 24

At age 24, Carly Barrett was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.
At age 24, Carly Barrett was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.(WAVE)
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 5:15 PM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and doctors are are now seeing an increase in young people diagnosed.

At age 24, Carly Barrett was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

Now in remission, Barrett spends her time spreading awareness as a TikTok influencer.

Barret said she started experiencing gradually worsening symptoms of colon cancer, but didn’t get a diagnosis until 6 months later.

”I didn’t really know what to think because again, nobody in my family had cancer,” Barrett said.

In June 2019, Barret said she was flying back to Louisville from a summer vacation in Europe when the pain became unbearable.

”Flight attendants had to clear an isle seat for me, and really just take care of me until I could get home,” Barrett said.

Emergency room doctors noticed a tumor that would later spread to her liver.

As soon as she felt symptoms, Barrett said she wishes she would have been screened earlier.

Chemotherapy didn’t work for her, but immunotherapy did and she is now in remission.

”Colon cancer rates have been going up in younger people, as a matter of a fact there’s been a 20 percent increase in those under age 50 over the last 10 years,” Dr. Michael Driscoll with the Norton Cancer Institute said.

Driscoll said doctors have discovered more risk factors over the last decade; including obesity, tobacco use, and processes foods.

”Even if they have no family history of colorectal cancer,” Driscoll said. “If they are having any symptoms that could be associated with the colorectal cancer, such as abdominal pain, weight loss, blood in the stool, changes in stool caliber, such as you know shape or consistency, they should speak their primary care physician about that and likely go on to a screening colonoscopy.”

Driscoll said professional organizations are recommending the national colon cancer screening age requirement be pushed to 40 years old, instead of 45.

“Now that I am living this life past cancer, I wanted to show people that there is hope, that there is life after this horrible disease,” Barrett said.

Norton Health Care is now offering Colonoscopy appointments on Saturdays.

For more information on screenings available at Norton Healthcare, click or tap here.