Paula Chambers Raney was 43 when she started experiencing diarrhea, painful gas, and stomach gurgling after meals. Once, what felt like gas buildup in her stomach hurt so badly, “I almost screamed,” she said.
Raney, who then ran her own catering business near Houston, didn’t have insurance but said she shuffled through several doctors over the course of about a year. She was told it was probably a stomach bug, or acid reflux, orirritable bowel syndrome, and given various medications but no relief.
“I was taking whatever the doctor said. Of course you’re like, ‘OK, that sounds good to me, you’re the doctor,'” Raney told Insider. “I don’t do that anymore, by the way.”
Now a 53-year-old a colorectal cancer survivor, election worker, and advocate with the organization Fight Colorectal Cancer, Raney knows the importance of speaking up for herself. She shared her story with Insider to encourage others to do the same. Advocacy “has become a big part of my life,” Raney said, “because what happened to me was so insane.”