By Stacey Leasca
February 11, 2019
momnoi/Getty Images

At just 15 years old, Lauren Marler of Midland, Texas, knew something was wrong. It started when she noticed blood in her stool. Too afraid and embarrassed to tell her mother, Marler lived with the symptoms for years. But, even then Marler simply knew it had to be cancer.

“I looked up my symptoms and knew I had all the signs for colon cancer,” she told Reader’s Digest. “I freaked out but still couldn’t tell my mom face-to-face, so I wrote her a letter, telling her I knew I had cancer. My mom thought I was overreacting, and even the doctor she took me to said it was constipation.”

However, Marler’s symptoms continued so doctors finally relented and performed an endoscopy and colonoscopy. By then Marler was 17 and doctors confirmed her fears were true. She had colon cancer, a disease that is exceedingly rare in children and teens.

“When I woke up from the procedure, my mom was just pale,” Marler told The Daily Mail. “She wasn't speaking to me and she looked like she'd seen a ghost.”

Her doctors told her they had never seen a case as bad as hers.

'The lady that did the scope was in tears. I live in Midland, Texas, it's a small town,” she told Daily Mail. Her doctors quickly got Marler into treatment. Her colon was removed. Afterward, her cancer was gone. Or so they thought.

According to Reader’s Digest, just nine months later this cancer returned.

“When my mom told me, I was cleaning my room. I just felt like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I just want to be a normal kid,'” she said.

So, she underwent treatment once more including chemo and radiation. Once again her cancer appeared to be gone. She remained in remission for nearly five years. But, at 23, Marler got the shock of a lifetime when she learned her cancer returned for the third time.

“I was at work and the doctor called to tell me that the scan showed a spot in my uterus. A biopsy of the polyp revealed it was endometrial cancer, and an aggressive one. We went back to MD Anderson to meet with Pedro T. Ramirez, MD, who recommended a full hysterectomy. “Luckily, that time, the cancer was contained to the polyp, so I didn’t need chemotherapy,” she told Reader’s Digest.

Following her surgery and the realization that his patient was in treatment for the third time, Dr.Ramirez ordered a new genetic test. It revealed Marler had a rare disorder called CMMRD, which, unfortunately, made her far more susceptible to cancer. Though there is no cure Marler felt relieved.

“It’s heartbreaking, but at least I have an answer,” she told Reader’s Digest. Less than 100 people in the United States have it, and I’m one of them.”

Her condition caused her to get cancer a fourth time, this time lymphoma.

I couldn’t believe it was happening again. The biopsy showed that it was lymphoma, one of the hardest types to treat. The doctors told me the treatment was going to be so grueling that I would hate them by the time it was over. They were right,” she said.

But, now, at 28, she finds herself in remission again, living in Texas with her family and dogs, and ready to keep battling. She is, after all, a tough Texas girl.

As for her advice to others, Marler told Reader’s Digest: “Find a way to get the help you need—you have to tell someone. Even if it’s writing a letter like I did, find someone you’re comfortable with that you can tell. If I had waited longer, I would have died in my 20s.