Two years later I had a dramatic rectal bleed and presented to the local hospital that night. The hospital doctor wrote a letter to my GP who referred me for a colonoscopy and organised an FOB test in the meantime, which came back negative. I live three hours from the nearest city so I had to wait another three months to see a surgeon who discovered a tumour in my bowel. He recommended it be removed whether it was cancerous or not. At this stage I was not feeling overly concerned as my pathology results had come back negative. The cancer diagnosis was only confirmed after the surgery, when I was told it was Stage 3 bowel cancer.
At first I was told I should have surgery and possibly chemotherapy, which ended up being the case. After complications from the surgery I was given a temporary ileostomy. Fortunately my brother and his family live in Brisbane, so I was able to fly in fortnightly, stay with them for three days for chemotherapy and fly back home.
I developed the usual symptoms for my type of chemotherapy such as tingling and numbness in my fingers and toes. I also developed cold sensitivity, the seizing up of jaw and finger joints, a dry mouth, constipation, insomnia, irritability, hair loss, loss of appetite and taste, and memory loss.
Due to the ileostomy, I had to avoid many other foods and drink a lot of fluids. I had no appetite and it was difficult to eat many normal foods. In hospital I was given plenty of useful advice by a dietician. I was able to get support over the phone from the dietician and stoma therapy nurses.
I had a lot of trouble emotionally and psychologically. Apart from the cancer I was also dealing with a depressed teenage son, my home being flooded, business concerns and I had to travel away for surgery and chemo. I suffered from the loss of control over my life, dealing with the unknown, isolation and problems with body image. I was angry and depressed. My partner was at a loss to know how to deal with me. It has taken me a long time to improve but I have.
Currently there is no sign of cancer. I’ve not quite been given the all clear, but I’m now onto six monthly check- ups.