My message to anyone out there reading this would be to stay positive and keep moving forward. Despite what I’ve been through I feel better now than I have in a long time. Prior to my diagnosis, I hadn’t been feeling well for some time. A driving holiday to Melbourne prompted me to see a doctor. I was fine sitting down but as soon as I stood up I had to rush to a toilet.
Back in Sydney my GP sent me off for blood tests and a CT scan. The results showed my tumour markers were up so things were not looking good. After a CT scan and MRI, a specialist performed a colonoscopy at the end of May 2011 and confirmed I had a Stage three rectal tumour.
So many things go through your head when you are diagnosed and none of them are good. I thought it was all over. My surgeon was very positive, however, and talked about how we were going to get me through this. He mapped out my treatment plan with me so I felt much better after talking to him. My initial treatment included continuous chemotherapy through a PICC line plus radiotherapy for eight weeks. I felt ok during this treatment and went to work every day. I felt a bit tired towards the end but knew it was very important to keep as much normality in my life as possible.
In October 2011, I had surgery to remove the tumour. I had a colostomy bag which I didn’t like but just had to deal with. Just before Christmas I started back on an 18 week course of chemo which ended at Easter. Again I felt ok through this and continued to work full time. Following a PET scan I was officially put in remission in early May 2012 and then had a reversal of my stoma on 29 May 2012.
Since the cancer and treatment my diet has changed. I can’t tolerate certain foods anymore but I’m learning more about food and what I can and can’t eat. I have had some problems with pain in the back passage and just recently had a dilation which really helped. I will probably need this every six months for a few years. I still have blood tests and see my GP on a monthly basis.
Overall I have been positive throughout and a lot of this comes from having good support; my wife has been wonderfully supportive and attended all appointments and treatment sessions with me. All of the specialists we saw were very open and willing to answer any questions we had.
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.