Kaye's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 51, VIC)

You might think that a diagnosis of bowel cancer is bad luck. In my case it certainly seemed that way. Just fifty, fit, healthy, a vegetarian and no family history of any cancer, it certainly seemed that bad luck had played a hand in it.

But really, my battle with bowel cancer is story of good luck.

I'm lucky, despite the cancer having advanced to stage 3 by the time of diagnosis, advancements in treatment means I have a 75% chance of surviving this disease.

Lucky also because I have come through radiotherapy, two rounds of chemo and surgery with only minimal side effects.

Add to this the good fortune of being able to have my treatment at a cancer care centre close to home and not to have to travel great distances weekly or even daily, and to have been supported by a great team of cancer care specialist for the 10 months of treatment.

Following each visit to the cancer care centre for treatment I was then able to recover in my own home with the care and support of my loving family. How lucky is that?

My surgery was to remove a significant part of my large bowel and as the cancer was so low (rectal), I could have been left with a permanent colostomy bag. However, I was fortunate to have a great surgeon who was able to produce the best possible outcome, an ileostomy that was reversed 8 months later.

However the biggest stroke of good luck is one we must all be thankful for – that we live in a country where the government send each of us, the gift of a bowel cancer screening test for our 50th birthday. 'How is this lucky?', you might wonder.

My cancer, stage 3 at diagnosis, came with no signs or symptoms. I was well, fit and healthy, no hint of anything being amiss. Had it not been for the screening test, who knows, I may not have been so lucky.

So please when you receive your gift for your 50th birthday, think about how fortunate we are to live in the 'Lucky Country' where our health system provides such screening tests, free of charge, so that we all might be so lucky.
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