I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 47. I had taken a Rotary Bowelscan test (FOBT) and, when it returned a positive result in May, my GP referred me to a specialist. I was given a colonoscopy in June and told I had a 10 per cent chance of having cancer… turns out, I was in that unlucky 10 per cent! In July I had a bowel resection. Looking back, it all happened so quickly.
I felt I coped really well with the cancer at the time but I experienced more problems about seven years later. I suffered depression and was forced into medical retirement due to poor bowel control, all of which coincided with my father’s death. I think I just bottled up all my emotions, and it wasn’t until I finally saw my GP that I was encouraged to talk about my experiences.
Prescription medication helped me to manage my depression.
My lifestyle has definitely changed since my diagnosis. I have reduced my red meat consumption (especially well cooked red meat) and increased the amount of vegetables I eat. I also try to avoid nuts and nut products, and I gave up smoking as soon as I was diagnosed.
I was very lucky that my bowel cancer was detected so early because I had absolutely no symptoms and no family history of the disease. I now have a colonoscopy every five years to make sure I stay cancer-free.
My wife and I help run a Bowelscan stall every year, which is my way of giving something back. I hope we’re helping to raise awareness in people who may be affected by bowel cancer without even realising it. The advice I give to others is this: it doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you have any symptoms. Take regular screening tests. Don’t wait!
Real Life Stories
|Stephanie's story (21, QLD)|
I woke from what was supposed to be a routine, last resort colonoscopy and was advised that my undertaking of this small procedure had saved my life. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year in October 2012 at the age of 21.