I had been seeing bright red blood in my stools for between four and six weeks before I saw a doctor.
Because a similar thing had happened after my children (now four and six years old) were born, the experience wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me. I felt otherwise OK and my energy levels were normal. Nothing felt unusual or different.
I had a sigmoidoscopy on my doctor’s orders on 19 April 2010 and they found a growth which they biopsied.
The results of the biopsy came back as “benign” but high risk of a potential cancer in the long term so I had surgery to remove the growth. At the same time, I had a colonoscopy to check for other abnormalities. During the surgery they removed the 5cm growth and further tests revealed that the growth was in fact malignant. A week after the first surgery, I had a bowel resection and it was found that the cancer had spread to one of my lymph nodes. The bowel resection resulted in a permanent stoma.
As the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, I’m now having my sixth round of 12 cycles of chemotherapy to tackle that. The chemo is administered over two and half days within a 14-day cycle. I have experienced nausea and diarrhoea following my chemotherapy treatments.
Being told you have bowel cancer is a total shock. I’m young and have led a healthy life – I was actually at my fittest when I was diagnosed. The blood in my stools was the only sign that anything was wrong. You can’t afford to assume it will never happen to you, like I did. I was regularly checking for lumps in my breasts, like you’re told to, but didn’t think about other types of cancer.
We need to let people know that they should see their doctors as soon as they notice a change in their bowel motions, and not to be too embarrassed to talk about it. Bowel cancer definitely needs to be talked about more openly.
I can only thank my family, friends and colleagues for their support and encouragement during this difficult experience. They have all been wonderful.
Real Life Stories
|Sandra's story (49, SA)|
In 2008 I had lap band surgery to help reverse obesity. Since having the surgery, I have had routine blood tests every six months. Prior to one check-up appointment, I noticed a speck of blood in the toilet so during my consultation with my GP (and after she had written a referral for my bariatric specialist) I told her about the blood in the toi [ ... ]