AL family grapples with “out of the blue” cancer diagnosis

Colon cancer in younger adults is on the rise
Andrea, Kylie, Abby and Kit Goolsby
Andrea, Kylie, Abby and Kit Goolsby
Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 at 10:54 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Kit Goolsby spent a busy weekend last October watching his youngest daughter play softball near their home in St. Clair County, but a pain under his left rib nagged him. Kit's wife, Andrea, said her husband's pain came and went all weekend, but by lunchtime on Monday, it was so severe, he called her from work and asked her to meet him at the emergency room.

That was October 15, 2018, the day their lives changed forever. Goolsby, 41, was diagnosed with a severe infection in his abdominal wall, but more worrisome was a mass on his colon and two spots on his liver that doctors spotted in a CT scan. Several days later, the Goolsby family heard the news no one wants to receive. Kit had stage IV colon cancer, which had spread to his liver. The abdominal infection was unrelated to the cancer, but because he had no other symptoms, it allowed doctors to find the malignancy. Kit had no signs or symptoms of cancer. He was healthy, and had never been in the hospital.

“To say we were shocked is an understatement,” said Andrea.

Kit and Andrea Goolsby, with their daughters Abby (left) and Kylie (right)
Kit and Andrea Goolsby, with their daughters Abby (left) and Kylie (right)

Goolsby is not alone. More young adults are being diagnosed and dying from colorectal cancer and researchers are trying to figure out why. In 2017, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published a study that showed a 1.4 percent increase in death rates for colorectal cancers for adults younger than 55 between 2004 and 2014. Last year, ACS released new screening guidelines that adults with average risk should get tested at age 45, while previous recommendations were to test starting at age 50. In addition, anyone with a parent or sibling diagnosed before age 60 should get tested at age 40 or 10 years before the age of diagnosis. Since his diagnosis, Kit Goolsby learned his late grandmother had colon cancer.

Andrea Goolsby said she’s been stunned to connect with other young patients through social media and was introduced to a woman in Moody whose husband was diagnosed at age 33.

“That’s what so scary about this,” said Andrea. “I’ve seen women in their twenties with it in these groups I’ve joined.”

In 2012, WBRC’s J-P Dice shared his story about being diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer at age 40. He underwent radiation and chemotherapy and today, is cancer free.

Kit Goolsby is currently undergoing chemotherapy at UAB. Doctors are hoping to shrink the tumor before they operate. Andrea said her husband is dealing with some unpleasant side effects from the chemo- sores on his tongue, a rash on his arm, but his attitude is good.

“He never complains,” she said. “He’s a fighter.”

Kit Goolsby undergoing chemotherapy
Kit Goolsby undergoing chemotherapy((Source: Andrea Goolsby))

Kit is the sole provider for his family of four, working as a warehouse manager at a carpet and flooring business. He has been unable to work while undergoing treatments, but Andrea said his employer has allowed him to take an unpaid leave of absence. Still, the family is struggling to make ends meet, relying on donations from family and friends. They have applied for disability, but that can take months. Before the holidays, Andrea decided to start a GoFundMe account. She doesn’t want her husband to worry about money.

“Kit is the most amazing husband and father to our two girls,” Andrea said. “Colon cancer has invaded our family. I’m just trying to keep things has normal as possible at home.”

Common risk factors for colon cancer are diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and drinking alcohol and obesity. Click here more information about the disease.

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