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Ryan Nullmeyer: Listen When Your Body is Trying to Tell You Something

Ryan Nullmeyer

“When you see symptoms, get them checked out,” Ryan said. “Things could have turned out very differently for me.”

Ryan Nullmeyer
Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is no longer a disease of just the older population. So even if you are young, listen when your body is trying to tell you something. That’s the message that Ryan Nullmeyer, colorectal cancer survivor, wants to share.

Ryan was diagnosed in January 2023 at age 35, but he had noticed symptoms for quite a while. “Like a typical man, I didn’t want to go to the doctor,” he said.

He began having trouble standing up because he was dizzy. During a Christmas visit, family members told him he looked very pale and did not seem like himself. A visit to an urgent care facility revealed he had a very low hemoglobin level.

When he returned home, he had a colonoscopy, which found a large cancerous mass. On January 25, he had surgery to  remove the mass. Fortunately, due to the stage of the cancer, he did not require any further treatment post-surgery. Afterward, doctors said he was cancer free.

“When you see symptoms, get them checked out,” Ryan said.

“We really want to raise awareness among younger adults of early-onset colorectal cancer so we can catch the disease at an earlier and more treatable stage,” said Jillian Grimm, D.O., colon and rectal surgeon with Texas Colon & Rectal Specialists–New Braunfels and Ryan’s physician.

“Colorectal cancer screenings should start at age 45,” said Dr. Grimm. “The age was lowered in 2021 [from 55] based on the trend of growing cases among younger adults.”

Because adults younger than 45 are not routinely screened, growths may be missed that later develop into cancer. It is vital for younger adults to know their family history and be aware they might be at higher risk. In this case, Ryan has a family history of cancer with both of his grandfathers having stomach cancer and his mother having melanoma.

In addition, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute identified four warning signs to encourage younger adults to seek medical care, including abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and iron deficiency anemia. According to the study, having just one of these signs meant double the chance of being diagnosed with early-onset colorectal cancer compared to having none of the signs.

“When a younger adult notices any of these signs, they should at least visit with their primary care physician,” Dr. Grimm said.

Ryan is grateful for the positive outcome, even though he didn’t act on his symptoms immediately. “Things could have turned out very differently for me,” Ryan said. “My faith is very strong and gave me peace of mind. I knew that the Lord was with me.”

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.