I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 58 years old.
I’d had dull stomach pain and occasional bleeding for several months but it wasn’t until I saw a lot of blood in the toilet that I booked an appointment with my GP. He sent me for a colonoscopy and I was referred to a surgeon within a week.
I was very shocked when I was told I had cancer, but I tried to remain positive throughout my treatment and I really think that helped me cope.
If you have any irregularities in your bowel movements, don’t ignore it. See your GP straight away and don’t be embarrassed! The whole experience of being diagnosed with bowel cancer has been emotionally devastating for me.
In February 2010, I noticed blood in my faeces and made an appointment to see my GP. I’d had bleeding from haemorrhoids before but this was different. I had also been experiencing an urgency to open my bowels for a few years which I had put down to my history of haemorrhoids.
My experience with bowel cancer began with a niggly pain, not unlike wind pain, that lasted for about 10 days. I had always suffered with endometriosis so I put the pain down to that.
Thankfully my husband encouraged me to go and get checked out. When the doctor examined my tummy it was very painful. The doctor diagnosed me as having a burst appendix and before I knew it, I was flown out from our small town to the nearest teaching hospital. I spent three days there on intravenous antibiotics to reduce what they thought was inflammation.
Despite experiencing horrible stomach pains and bloating and visiting a few different GPs about my symptoms, I was told I had IBS and female problems. My mother has Crohns so I finally found a GP who would send me for a colonoscopy to test me for this.
After being on the waiting list for a while I finally had a colonoscopy in April 2011; however, it had to be abandoned due to the extreme pain I suffered during the procedure. I was scheduled to have another colonoscopy as they had found a polyp during the first procedure. This scan never happened until February 2012 and it was at this time a tumour was discovered – it was almost blocking my bowel.
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.
“It’s an unusual birthday present, but it is probably the best gift I have received.”
Ian, a retired merchant seaman, never thought the simple act of emptying his post box would ultimately save his life.
At 65, Ian, like many Australians, was unaware the risk of developing bowel cancer increased with age. He was physically fit and believed he was in good health. As an active fisherman determined to make the most of his retirement, bowel cancer was the last thing on Ian’s mind.
In early November 2010 I noticed some weight loss and a change in my bowel habits, including rectal bleeding. I went to the doctor in mid-November and was diagnosed with anaemia and booked in for a colonoscopy later that month. I was told on the day of the colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer.
The next step was surgery, a high anterior resection, which was done in mid-December.
My father was a fit and healthy man. He ate well, never smoked, almost never drank to excess and played a lot of sports. As a result of old work and football injuries, he suffered from chronic knee and back pain for many years. He also suffered frequent digestive upsets, which he rationalised to be a side-effect of the anti-inflammatory medication he needed to take for his pain.
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