13
Mar
2017

James' bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 40, VIC)

I was feeling fine, but there was quite a bit of blood appearing in my stool - I just put it down to haemorrhoids.

My partner kept telling me to see the doctor, but of course, I did the male thing and ignored her pleas.

After experiencing a bowel motion consisting only of blood, I finally went to the GP.

The GP asked a few questions, conducted a quick examination and then said he also thought the bleeding was just due to haemorrhoids.
 
He said I was too young and healthy to have cancer.
 
A week earlier, my son was born.
 
That’s probably why, after a few days, I decided to go back to the GP and ask for a referral for a colonoscopy.
 
They found a 4cm tumour.
 
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2015.
 
The day after they found the tumour, I was rushed off for a full body scan to determine if the cancer had spread.
 
Thankfully it hadn’t reached any other organs, but it had pierced the wall into my lymph nodes, making it a stage 3 diagnosis.
 
The following week I started a 7-week course of radiation and oral chemotherapy.
 
Apart from the last two weeks of what felt like passing fireballs from my rectum during bowel movements, I felt fantastic.
 
I had changed my whole diet to include just nuts, grains, oats, fruit, veggies and fish – all of which were organic.
 
I also visited a cancer specialist, who put me on a number of supplements and recommended Vitamin C infusions, which I received fortnightly.
 
Keeping up my training and exercising also helped me stay positive and focused.
 
I had read Lance Armstrong's book years earlier.
 
I remember him saying that no matter how bad he was feeling after treatment, he would still keep riding, so I followed his advice.
 
I’m so grateful for his choice words.
 
Eight weeks after my first course of treatment, I underwent surgery to have my tumour removed and my temporary stoma attached.
 
The surgeons were very confident that all the cancer had been removed but wanted to give me a second, more intense course of chemotherapy ‘just to make sure’.
 
I started the second batch of chemotherapy 6-weeks after my surgery – it was a lot harder to endure.
 
I think the worst side effects for me were the muscle spasms in my hands, along with the pins and needles.
 
The sessions got progressively more difficult and I remember at the end of my last treatment I stood up from the chair and nearly fainted.
 
I was overwhelmed by a feeling of absolute defeat combined with total euphoria that it was all over.
 
It was the strangest thing I had ever experienced and one that I will never forget.
 
Two months later, I had my stoma reversed, which was one of the greatest days of my life.
 
Having that was definitely the hardest part of the ordeal for me.
 
Today I am nearly 18 months in remission and feel better than I ever have.
 
The best advice I can give to someone living with cancer is to never lose hope and to stay positive.
 
Surround yourself with positive things and eliminate anything negative.
 
Don't focus on why or how you got the cancer – concentrate on getting the cancer out of your body.
 
Cancer has changed my whole perspective on life.
 
I no longer take for granted the basics like a cold glass of water, something I was unable to have initially after my chemotherapy because of the muscles in my throat tightening up.
 
I don’t chase the dollars like so many people, losing sight of what's really important.
 
As long as I have my health, my family and my friends, that's all I need.
 
Everything else is a bonus.
 
I count my lucky stars every day that I am able to see my little boy grow up.
 
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