Connie's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 48, VIC)

It took more than three months for doctors to diagnose my bowel cancer after several check-ups for health complaints relating to my tummy and bowel. I am now battling an aggressive cancer that has spread to my liver and lung. I just wish this had been caught earlier...
In Sep 2014, I had my usual health check and all seemed well. The only issue I had was a cough which I could not shake. I also noticed a pulling sensation on the left side of my tummy. I was prescribed an asthma puffer and a course of steroids for my cough. By October, my cough had gone but the pulling sensation in my tummy remained. Then my bowel habits started to change.

I was not clearing my bowel and had mild constipation. I went to my GP who suggested I take fibre to help things along. However by the middle of October, I was in pain from the constipation. My GP thought I had an infection in my bowel and gave me a course of antibiotics and when there was no improvement, I was given a second course of antibiotics and sent off for an ultrasound and abdominal x- ray.

The results showed there was some inflammation in my bowel and I was referred for a colonoscopy. This procedure confirmed inflammation of my bowel and a biopsy was taken. The biopsy did not pick up any cancer cells. I was told by the surgeon at the time not to worry as it was not cancer. He thought I had either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

I was prescribed a course of antibiotics and other medication. But my condition became worse. I now had rectal bleeding, I felt exhausted and I ended up catching a nasty bowel infection due to the treatment.

I was admitted to hospital where they tried to work out what was wrong. After 10 days of testing (again there was no sign of cancer according to my blood results) and observations, the doctors decided to do another colonoscopy and took multiple biopsies of the inflamed area. This test confirmed I had bowel cancer.

Two days later, I had surgery to have a section of my bowel removed together with surrounding lymph nodes. It was found that of the 24 lymph nodes tested, nine were positive for cancer.

Prior to leaving hospital, I had another CT scan and x-ray to check that the cancer had not spread. At that stage all was clear.

I met my oncologist and was scheduled to begin chemotherapy in the middle of February. However two weeks after leaving hospital, I suffered severe pain on my left side and ended up back in hospital.

The cause was thought to be kidney stones but this was never confirmed. Subsequent CT scans and an x-ray found that the cancer had spread and was aggressive. I now had four spots in my liver and one spot in my lung.

I have been having chemo since the middle of January and will continue to have chemo fortnightly for the next six months.
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