We don’t normally associate burping with cancer, but Bailey McBreen’s excessive burps turned out to be a symptom of a horrible disease. In a recent interview with NeedToKnow, the Florida nurse said she used to burp up to 10 times a day before the diagnosis. “This was not normal for me. I actually rarely ever burped before, and that is why I noticed how weird it was.”
McBreen said she wasn’t concerned about it at first but by February 2022, she started suffering from severe acid reflux, which her doctors dismissed it as a symptom of her anxiety.
But her experience as a nurse told her that something was wrong. She went to a hospital and got a CT scan, which revealed stage 3 colon cancer with a tumor obstructing her large intestine.
“I never thought it could be linked to such a horrible disease,” she said of the diagnosis. “It truly was an out-of-body experience. I remember the first thing I could say was, ‘I am not ready to die.’ Never in a million years did I think that any vague symptom I had was actually stage 3 colon cancer.”
She believes her burping was caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GED), which occurs when stomach acid flows back up the tube leading to the esophagus.
“Excessive burping isn’t your textbook sign of colon cancer — but my oncologist told me that it was likely the start of my symptoms,” McBreen added. “GERD was a symptom in my case because my tumor was slowly causing a complete bowel obstruction.”
She underwent emergency surgery to have the tumor removed in January of this year and recently began chemotherapy, which is scheduled to last through August. The 25-year-old has also started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
Nursing can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, but McBreen said nurses need to pay attention to their bodies, so they can get the care they need. She was healthy and active leading up to the diagnosis and never thought she could come down with cancer at such an early age.
“The 10 months leading up to my diagnosis, I was actually the healthiest I had ever been,” she said.
“I worked out 5 to 6 times a week consistently for at least 14 months. Cancer does not discriminate. Anything that is new to you, even if it’s otherwise considered a normal thing, needs to be addressed,” McBreen continued. “I didn’t think anything of my burping because it was a ‘normal’ thing. It’s important to listen to your body.”
Colon cancer is becoming increasingly common among men and women under the age of 50. Early detection can improve patient outcomes and reduce recovery times.
She added that the “entire journey has been a roller coaster of emotions. My diagnosis has impacted my life in every possible way you could imagine,” she lamented.
McBreen has since changed her lifestyle for the better by switching to a high fiber, low carb diet and avoiding over processed foods
“I eat completely organic now, which I don’t think I would have ever prioritized prior to being diagnosed,” McBreen explained. “Being diagnosed with cancer has allowed me to be more aware of what I am putting on and in my body.”
She has also adjusted her priorities in life.
“Now, all I care about is spending time with family, eating healthy, my faith, and surrounding myself with only my core group of friends,” she said. “Life is too short to be constantly pleasing people and doing things that don’t make you feel fulfilled.”