I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer two years ago at the age of 23. I had been experiencing a range of symptoms for about five years, including rectal bleeding, mucous in my stools, diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps to changes in my bowel habits.
Coincidentally, my mother was also having these problems, so we were both seeing a doctor to try to discover their cause.
This story is about my mum’s ordeal with bowel cancer.
She was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 73, but her diagnosis had taken some time. Her rectal bleeding was initially thought to be haemorrhoids, and the GP gave her a cream to treat the condition, but the bleeding persisted and, when she finally had a colonoscopy two months later, they found advanced bowel cancer.
It’s hard not having control and not knowing what is happening.
I first went to my GP in Nov 2011 after a government bowel screen test sent back a positive result for blood in the stools. My GP recommended a colonoscopy, which I had in late February 2012. I was shocked to find out I had rectal cancer. There was no indication and no family history of bowel cancer either.
My mum was in her mid to late 40s when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She died at the age of 50, when I was 27, 11 years ago this year.
Mum had experienced symptoms for some time, starting with bowel upsets, stomach pain and changes in her bowel habits. The doctors suggested it was gastro, then Irritable Bowel Syndrome - you name it, they suggested it. When I look back it felt as though they were fobbing her off. They never suggested looking into what was causing the problems.