In April 2010, I suffered a huge amount of bleeding when I went to the toilet. I had no warning signs – it just happened out of the blue. It was so bad that I went straight to the emergency ward at the hospital. I think they thought it was just haemorrhoids so I was given a DRE (digital rectal examination) and the doctor took some blood and sent me home.
But I knew it was more than just haemorrhoids – there was way too much bleeding to be something so minor – and a few hours later, I fainted because of the blood loss and was rushed back to hospital in an ambulance. This time they kept me in hospital for a few days suspecting a possible virus, but still did not find anything they could confirm.
Four weeks later I was given a colonoscopy, which revealed a 4cm-long tumour, and a biopsy showed it to be cancer. A couple of days later, I had a CT scan, then surgery to remove the tumour and have a temporary stoma fitted, which was reversed after six months.
I had some problems with blockages after the stoma was first reversed, so I needed to have follow-up CTs to look into the pain they were causing me, but things have settled down now. I had to give up my chef’s apprenticeship because I developed food intolerances along the way, so I’m not sure what my next move will be.
As far as we can work out, there’s no history of bowel cancer in my family. We think that my grandfather’s sister had polypoids removed but no one is sure. My diagnosis was totally unexpected.
I couldn’t work as a chef in the six months that I had the stoma, so I used this time to look into blogs and websites about them. Not only did I pick up some really handy hints about living with my stoma but also I was able to help other people by sharing my experiences. I want to say this to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with BC: there is help out there, if you do your research and put in the time to find it. And there are plenty of other BC sufferers just like me who are willing to share their experiences.
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 [ ... ]