I pre­vi­ous­ly tal­ked about how I en­ded up in Fin­land , but I had skip­ped over so­met­hing shoc­king and ter­rib­le which hap­pe­ned as I was pre­pa­ring to move.

In Sep­tem­ber of 2016, my wife, San­ni, felt ill. She was presc­ri­bed some an­ti­bi­o­tics which ini­ti­al­ly see­med to help, but her symp­toms kept fluc­tu­a­ting and her bel­ly be­gan to swell. Each vi­sit to a nur­se or doc­tor re­ve­a­led not­hing out of the or­di­na­ry. Af­ter ne­ar­ly two months sin­ce she first felt sick, she star­ted vo­mi­ting and was sent to the emer­gen­cy room where the doc­tors dis­co­ve­red San­ni had a bloc­ka­ge in her lar­ge in­tes­ti­ne. They or­de­red an emer­gen­cy sur­ge­ry.

Me­anw­hi­le, back in Ma­ry­land, I had no idea what was hap­pe­ning. I hadn’t he­ard from San­ni in a while and was wor­ried, so I re­ac­hed out to my in-laws who got me up to speed.

When San­ni woke up from the sur­ge­ry, she cal­led me and I had troub­le be­lie­ving what she was tel­ling me. The sur­ge­on had in­for­med her that they re­mo­ved a tu­mor from her co­lon the size of her fist and they be­lie­ved it was can­ce­rous. San­ni was 30-ye­ars-old at the time. How could she have had co­lo­rec­tal can­cer?

San­ni was re­le­a­sed from the hos­pi­tal and con­ti­nu­ed her re­co­ve­ry from home, get­ting help from her fa­mi­ly. I fi­nal­ly ar­ri­ved in Fin­land soon af­ter and tried my best to help as well while si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly trying to ad­just to a new count­ry. The sur­ge­ry left a per­ma­nent 20 cm scar down the mid­d­le of San­ni’s ab­do­men. It was dif­fi­cult to ac­cept what had just hap­pe­ned and she strug­g­led both men­tal­ly and phy­si­cal­ly, as were all of us. Af­ter months of con­sul­ta­ti­ons and furt­her tes­ting, San­ni was of­fi­ci­al­ly di­ag­no­sed with Lynch Synd­ro­me.

Lynch Synd­ro­me is an in­he­ri­ted ge­ne­tic con­di­ti­on—af­fec­ting about 1 in eve­ry 300 pe­op­le world­wi­de—which ma­kes pe­op­le more sus­cep­tib­le to cer­tain ty­pes of can­cer, inc­lu­ding co­lo­rec­tal, en­do­met­ri­al, sto­mach, brain, ute­ri­ne, and more. Pe­op­le with Lynch Synd­ro­me may de­ve­lop some form of can­cer as ear­ly as their mid to late twen­ties and are more li­ke­ly to de­ve­lop mul­tip­le can­cers in their li­fe­ti­me. Many who have the con­di­ti­on are una­wa­re.

It turns out that San­ni’s grand­mot­her had al­so had can­cer at a yo­ung age. There is a 50% chan­ce of pas­sing on the gene mu­ta­ti­on to child­ren. Ot­hers in San­ni’s fa­mi­ly have now been tes­ted and can plan ac­cor­ding­ly with their doc­tor. San­ni has to have re­gu­lar check-ups from now on to be sure no can­cers are de­ve­lo­ping and our son will be tes­ted when he turns eigh­teen. We try to re­main op­ti­mis­tic, ho­ping for the best as we pre­pa­re for the worst.

March 22nd is Lynch Synd­ro­me Awa­re­ness Day. If you or so­me­o­ne you know had can­cer be­fo­re the age of 50 or have a fa­mi­ly his­to­ry of can­cer at a yo­ung age, talk to yo­ur doc­tor. Get­ting tes­ted may be ne­ces­sa­ry to rule out Lynch Synd­ro­me. If it is dis­co­ve­red that Lynch Synd­ro­me does run in the fa­mi­ly, then it could af­fect any­o­ne in that ge­ne­tic line.

For more in­for­ma­ti­on, ple­a­se vi­sit the Lynch Synd­ro­me Re­se­arch Group at www.lynch­synd­roo­ma.fi . You may al­so feel free to re­ach out to me or San­ni at my­li­fein­fin­land@ya­hoo.com.

Matt Bo­wen is an Ame­ri­can li­ving in Pori, Fin­land with his wife, San­ni, their son, Ed­vin, and their dog, Pipo. You can fol­low their jour­ney on Mat­t­hew’s Fa­ce­book blog, My Life in Fin­land (www.fa­ce­book.com/Mat­tin­Fin­land/).