Barbara's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 62, NSW)

In May 2015, I saw a doctor for what I thought was severe constipation. He prescribed some common medicines used to treat constipation which did not work for me, in fact made me vomit.

The vomiting became so severe I ended up calling an ambulance to take me to the local hospital where they "diagnosed" severe constipation and followed up with the usual medicines again. The vomiting continued and there was certainly no bowel movement.

Finally, on the Saturday the Doctors organised an x ray. They diagnosed a "blockage" which could possibly be cancer. They then transferred me to the closest major hospital where I had a CT scan. This scan confirmed the blockage was bowel cancer.
On Sunday, I had an operation to remove a portion of my bowel. I was also given a temporary stoma to allow the rest of my bowel to heal from the surgery.

Next, I had a portacath inserted so I could begin the “clean up” chemotherapy as the cancer cells had spread to my lymph nodes.

The chemotherapy caused such severe pins and needles in my hands and feet I could only complete 9 out of the 12 cycles. I also became quite dehydrated and nauseous. The nausea was treated using steroids which, in turn, caused quite bad insomnia.

I obviously have had my ups and downs throughout this experience. In the middle of everything we also decided to sell our house given that it was too big for us to look after. I believe that everything happens for a reason and happens when it is supposed to happen. I believe C is for Cancer, for catalyst and for change. I think that Bowel cancer is the cancer to get if you are going to get cancer. My cancer was not such a big deal given that there are so many people out there that have way more problems. I can get fixed. Some people cannot.

Twelve months down the track I received the stoma reversal surgery I was promised. My surgery was performed using the new robotic approach which is less invasive, quicker healing and less time spent in hospital. Five days after surgery I was sent home to recover and I am extremely pleased to say that now, six weeks following my surgery I am feeling well on the way to recovery. I had read a lot about stoma reversals and I am grateful that my experiences have not been (touch wood) as problematic as what others have experienced. My wound has been dressed and cared for by the local community nurses to whom I am most grateful. These angels have been also very helpful in their knowledge and have provided me with additional general support following the surgery.
I am now on the road to recovery and looking forward to using the knowledge that I have gained from the past twelve months or so as a good grounding for my future good health – definitely not wanting to go backwards.
Banner Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline
Support Bowel Cancer Australia
Bowel Cancer Australia Bowel Cancer App