Benique's bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 41, QLD)

At 41yrs old, December 2018 was drawing to a close.

On the 17th December 2018, it was like any other busy day.

I went to work, trained at the gym, rode my horse and tended to some friends’ pets before going home for dinner and bed.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore stomach, headache and uncontrollable shivering....

I just thought maybe it was what I ate for dinner!

Eight hours later I was in hospital with what was initially believed to be appendicitis, so my appendix was removed.

Three weeks later, I went to my surgeon for a check up on my wound.

My surgeon had been on holidays and hadn’t reviewed my pathology results prior to seeing me and he was reading the results for the first time when he told me that my appendix was cancerous.

I was sitting there by myself and I just couldn’t stop crying.

I was devastated.

I later had a colonoscopy and scans which showed that the cancer had not spread and the tumour had just been in my appendix.

I then learnt that appendix cancer is fairly rare and that it produces a mucous with cells looking for organs to attach itself to.

I had major surgery that involved a section of my bowel being removed and some cancerous nodules that were in my stomach.

The surgery really knocked me around and I lost 6kg in hospital. Once I recovered from my operation, I started chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is scary when you first start as you don’t know how your body will respond.

I’m still undergoing chemotherapy and each round the side effects are different.

I react to cold things and cold weather, my stomach gets so sore and bloated, my moods/emotions have changed due to drugs and I get very fatigued.

I cope with wearing gloves to handle cold things, drink room temperature drinks and warm foods.

I’m learning my “chemo cycle” and can plan my life around how I usually feel on each day of my cycle.

I make myself get dressed and go out of the house each day no matter how lousy I feel.

I’m a very independent person and my family live a long way away (interstate and overseas) however my diagnosis has caused my family to keep in touch with me a lot more and I tell them I love regularly.

My work family has been amazingly supportive and casual friends have become pillars of support to me.

This has been one of the positives of my diagnosis. 

I consider myself lucky. I can still get out and about and ride my horse and do what I love - horse riding. It calms my mind and I forget about my diagnosis when I’m on my horse. 

I guess when I got my diagnosis, I wish I could have whispered to myself, “You will get through this. It’s tough and there will be hard times, but you are stronger than you know. You will be ok.”

It’s like my mantra now.

Once you kind of accept your diagnosis, find your passion and devote time to it.

It calms your brain and refreshes you.

Ask for help and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Banner Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline
Support Bowel Cancer Australia
Bowel Cancer Australia Bowel Cancer App