I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2010 at the age of 51. I was seeing a specialist at Toowoomba Hospital about my renal condition. He asked if there were any other health problems; I mentioned the blood in my stool, which I had seen off and on for the last six years. I didn’t think it that important, as I had had ulcerative colitis over the years. My GP did not think it was a concern.
Also I had recently done a FOBT test as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. It had returned a negative result.
The specialist organised a colonoscopy for the next day. The colonoscopy revealed aggressive cancer.
Within the next 5 weeks, my life changed. I had the large bowel removed. I was lucky to have the surgery when I did, because if it had been left any longer it would have been inoperable.
Five weeks in hospital, very slow recovery, in and out of Princess Alexandra Hospital. I felt like a permanent fixture there. As one dose of chemo did not fit, there were numerous admissions through 2010. The bag was taken off due to obstruction, and then months of pain, rear end, botox treatment to area did not work either. The specialist then decided that a permanent bag was the way.
In August 2011 the bag was refitted, slowly less pain, what a wonderful feeling. I am still on a disability pension, and my wife is on carer payment.
It has certainly been a huge learning curve for us both. We have had to put everything on hold. In less than 18 months my wife and I have gone from 30 acres of bushland and wanting to construct a shed house, to living in our caravan in Brisbane in order to be close to the hospital.
We have found it extremely difficult to find quality advice and support during this process. It seems like all we ever get is pamphlets. We must be able to do better. In an ideal world, my wife Lynette and I would love to buy a truck and travel around Australia promoting bowel cancer awareness.
Real Life Stories
|Andrew's story (22, VIC)|
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 t [ ... ]