Angela's bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 31, NSW)

I was diagnosed with Stage IV bowel cancer in 2015, at the age of 31.

At the time of my diagnosis the cancer had already spread extensively to my liver and lungs.

At the time I was diagnosed I had recently returned to work as a Midwife and our little boy was 18 months old.

I remember being tired, a tiredness that could not be described but I put it down to being back at work and being the mum of a busy toddler.

My husband and I had also stopped eating sugar so we were both losing weight.

I continued to lose weight but again something I associated with poor eating and shift work.

I also suffered lower back pain, but again this is something I have always had problems with and nurses are renowned for back pain, so thought nothing of it.

I am tall and have always played sport so, again associated it with wear and tear.

These symptoms would have only been present for a couple of months until October when I had a Laparoscopy to remove Endometriosis.

There was no mention of cancer, and my bloods were normal….

After the Laparoscopy, I started passing small frequent amounts of blood, but it was only a week or so after the Laparoscopy so I thought my bowel may have been agitated from the surgery.

Over the next couple of weeks this continued to get worse, to the point I could not eat without passing a small amount of blood (about the size of a 50c piece) so I went to my GP who arranged a colonoscopy.

Luckily I had the colonoscopy the following week, but it was not what we thought.

At the time we were living in remote WA, there were bush fires that my husband was working around the clock to fight.

So, I flew to Perth with my little boy and arranged for a friend to look after him while I had the colonoscopy.

I wasn’t expecting to be told I had a ‘tumour in my bowel’ after the procedure.

Initially we thought surgery, mop up chemo and I would be ok, but the CT scan following showed the extensive spread of metastatic disease so surgery was not an option.
Words cannot describe the shock and emotions felt when being told you have ‘a tumour in your bowel’.

It is only something you understand when it happens to you.

So over the last 18months I have had the first 2 lines of chemotherapy and was part of a clinical trial that did not work.

The medical options available are now limited. so I am paying out of pocket for an oral chemotherapy to help ‘buy some time and hopefully hold my disease’.

I have never asked for a prognosis and my oncologist is not keen to give me one.

We are just taking it day by day, week by week.

My advice to others is to get checked!!

Speak to your GP if you are having any symptoms such as passing blood, extreme tiredness, back pain, weight loss.

All these symptoms can be associated with lots of other things, especially being a parent to a toddler, but a simple test or a colonoscopy may help catch this hideous disease early, when it is most effectively treated!!


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