Jane M's bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 49, VIC)

‘Grateful’ is the word for me. And I love being grateful, it’s a wonderful state of mind. Thank you cancer.

This past year, 2018, was my 10-year anniversary of having metastatic bowel cancer. I can’t put my survival down to positive thinking or diet or determination or exercise. I don’t know why I’ve been so lucky.

I’ve had three recurrences of the metastatic cancer (liver) originally detected with my primary colon cancer in 2008. The recurrences were in 2010, 2011 and 2015. Over 10 years I’ve undergone two six month stints of chemosurgery, one bowel resection, and four liver resections. In 2015 I celebrated four years cancer free, and started to think that maybe I would reach the magical 5 years. Then a CT scan detected another tumour in my liver. Recurrences are shocking.

I’m keen to try to figure out how to convince people to undergo all screening appropriate to their age and circumstance. It’s difficult to convince them. And I understand why. Before I had cancer myself, I certainly thought that it was not something that was going to happen to me.

I was fortunate to be able to continue working until very recently (I am now 58). At my workplace there were various wellness initiatives in place. I endeavoured to promote cancer screening as much as I could. I could tell by the looks on people’s faces that they thought, as I once did, that cancer was not something that would happen to them.

I encourage everyone I know to take advantage of all cancer screening programs. Waiting for symptoms is waiting too long.

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