I was diagnosed with stage one bowel cancer at the age of 62.
Everything seemed to happen so quickly. I took part in the Rotary Bowelscan program in April and in early June received notification that my test results were positive. I saw my GP on 6 June and she booked a colonoscopy for 7 July. Just four days later I was having an x-ray and CT scan, which revealed a 4cm tumour on my sigmoid colon. By the end of July I had seen a surgeon, who recommended an operation to remove the tumour and outlined my treatment options.
My doctor was very good. He answered the questions I had prepared in advance and gave me some booklets about bowel cancer. The pre-admission clinic was really helpful too. There I had my initial blood tests done, was given a health check and met with the stoma nurse, who gave me a kit to read before surgery so that I felt a little more prepared.
I had the tumour removed on 3 August and since then have experienced complications arising from bladder and prostate problems. This made me a little reticent about social settings where I could get ‘caught short’ and at times I became quite short-tempered and little depressed at being unable to control my bowel movements.
But dietary changes have helped. I kept a food diary since my surgery in order to try to work out which foods do not agree with me - for example, salads, leafy vegetables and anything too spicy. I have also reduced my red meat consumption and my alcohol intake and experimented with doses of Lomatil to firm up my stool. My doctor gave me a helpful booklet about diet and I have found several good websites on the subject too. The situation has improved enough that I managed to go on a 14-day cruise and a couple of domestic flights since my operation. The nutritionist adviser from Bowel Cancer Australia later suggested a low residue diet. This has reduced my bowel movements further.
The support I have received since my diagnosis has come predominantly from my wife, and from friends who have had bowel cancer, all of whom have been wonderful. I also found my GP and my own online research to be very helpful.
Apart from that, I figure you just have to get on with things. At times it is frustrating but eventually things have improved with a positive attitude and a forward-looking nature.
Real Life Stories
|Helen's story (65, NSW)|
Unlike many people, I had a lot of symptoms before I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I saw my doctor many times about the ongoing pains in my stomach, back and bottom and the mucous in my bowel motions but was told I was probably suffering emotional strain or irritable bowel syndrome. I was given blood tests but t [ ... ]