Katrina's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 26, VIC)

I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer a year and a half ago at the age of 26.

I was numb, scared and feared the worse.

I think for me the hardest part was the unknown.

I was told they found something and that the surgeon team from the hospital would be in touch with me.

My father passed away from bowel cancer at the age of 30.

I always knew in the back of my head that once I turned 21, I should really go and get tested.

I went to my GP and questioned them about getting tested in my early 20’s, but they said I was too young to get cancer and I should wait a bit longer.

Every now and then I would get a little constipated, but I just thought I was eating the wrong foods.

I let it go on for a bit and never thought it could be linked to bowel cancer.

I kept thinking, “I’m getting older; I’d better just book in and get a colonoscopy.”

My world stopped as soon as I heard the words, “I’m sorry, but we found something.”

Then things started going 100 miles an hour.

Before I knew it, I was going into hospital for scans.

I was also having appointments at another hospital to see if I could get my eggs removed before I started treatment, to help my chances of having my own kids later on in life.

It was so full on.

I was on hormone injections twice a day to help hurry my eggs, to get them removed.

I ended up having my left ovary removed to be put away for use later on if needed.

I wanted to do whatever I could to increase my chances of being able to have a family later.

After having my eggs removed the next day, I was in hospital having my first round of IV chemo (Oxaliplation).

I was so scared of the unknown, again.

All I could think of was how harsh chemo was 20 years ago.

I didn't have much trouble with my first round.

I was very tired and I couldn't touch, drink or eat anything cold.

That feeling lasted a week then started to calm down.

I had a few weeks off and then I was back on chemo and started radiation.

I took chemo tablets 5 days a week and received radiation on the same days.

I had 26 sessions.

I was really nervous at my first radiation appointment, but the more I went the better I felt.

I was very lucky I had no redness of the skin or anything.

I suffered bad diarrhoea from the radiation towards the end of treatment and I’m sure the chemo was adding to it as well.

The chemo was not as it was the first time.

I was nauseated most days and didn’t have much of an appetite.

It was horrible trying to force myself to eat in order to keep weight on.

I felt like it was not going to be over, but finally it was.

I was then free for the next 10 weeks before my big operation.

As always, time went quickly.

I was so nervous; I couldn’t stop crying before they took me in.

Before I knew it, I woke up with an Ileostomy.

I had some trouble mentally dealing with my stoma, but as time went on, I was getting better and better with it all.

A month after surgery, I was on chemo again.

I had to go in every three weeks for chemo and took tablets in the meantime.

After four months, it was time to have my stoma reversed.

I felt so much better when I woke up after that operation.

I’m currently in remission and loving the freedom.

I found things very overwhelming at the end because I had time to stop and think about everything.

I was and still am seeing a counsellor to help me get myself back on the right path.

I can feel my old self coming back and it feels incredible.

I now go for my blood test every three months to check my cancer marker levels, and so far so good.

I wish that GPs would think a little bit more outside the box.

Cancer doesn’t worry about age or gender!

People need to push and push if they think something isn’t right.

You are the only one who truly knows your own body and what it’s normally like.

Speak up!

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