Life was quite normal, albeit very busy with a young family and a very time consuming career.
Things changed for me one night when I experienced severe stomach pains after eating a chicken sandwich and immediately self-diagnosed myself with "food poisoning." The next morning I was severely sick and started to vomit. At this stage I thought I was getting better as I had got it all out of my system.
I continued life as normal and flew from Brisbane to Sydney for work meetings. During the afternoon my stomach pains intensified to the point where I was doubled over and near fainting with pain. This time I self-diagnosed myself with having a stomach ulcer and decided I required more than a couple of Neurofen. On my way home from the airport I called into my local hospital A&E to get medical advice. Once I managed to see a doctor my journey began.
Firstly they took a blood test which showed a large loss of blood. Immediate blood transfusions began as my blood levels were critically low. My self-diagnosis at this stage was that I may now be suffering from a bleeding stomach ulcer.
After being wheeled around the hospital and internally photographed by a large array of machinery, the professional verdict was swiftly and coldly delivered. I was told I had a large tumour in my bowel and immediate surgery was necessary. So much for my self-diagnosis skills!
The operation was successful with a 15cm tumour and additional 15cm of bowel removed. I then endured six months of chemotherapy FOLFOX (5-FU plus Oxaliplatin). The chemo has caused me to experience numbness in my fingers and feet, hot flushes, tiredness and weight gain.
I am now being monitored every six weeks. Each time I am nervous of the results but hope this will get easier in time. At the time of my operation the tumour was sent away for testing and I have since found that I am a carrier of Lynches Syndrome. Lynches Syndrome is a DNA fault in a gene that fights cancer. While this news was very overwhelming and confronting it also has given me more understanding as to why I had cancer at such an early age. I am still waiting results to determine whether others in my family blood line are carriers of this fault in their genes.
It is amazing how you react to an event like this in your life. Initially I can say I was shocked and scared, yet I still felt somehow strong. I remained positive and determined throughout this ordeal. With a supportive wife and two beautiful daughters I believe I have a lot to fight for and will continue to do so.
Real Life Stories
|Rachel's story (40, QLD)|
I had noticed some blood in the toilet for about a month but thought it was due to constipation. I was working fulltime and have four children to look after – being so busy I just carried on and didn't dwell on it. One morning, however, I thought I had diarrhoea but all I could see was a lot of old blood in the toilet bowl. I left my husba [ ... ]