Toni's Kick Ass Story

Over the last 15 months I have learned many life lessons during this chapter of my life. Most of all, I have learned to put my health first and not to procrastinate because it may be embarrassing or require change. Just because it’s your normal, doesn’t mean it is normal. If you don’t feel right, it never hurts to have a conversation.

Before I begin I MUST thank my wonderful family for honouring my wish to stay positive and especially to my brother (T) who has been there with me right from the start. When I went to him and said “I’ve got something I need to tell you …” I have just been told I have bowel cancer after a pause he responded oh shit but from that moment he has been by my side. I am so grateful he suggested I explore the possibility of going to Toowoomba. From that ominous day to surgery was exactly one month.

At the time I felt okay it was the end of a busy school year and I was feeling tired but so was everyone else. I was lucky I suppose that I have regular blood tests and thanks to my doctor’s vigilance he noticed that my iron levels had been dropping and recommended an iron infusion, which was followed by a CT scan. From that moment my life changed and those early dates will be forever etched into my memory... 17/12/17, 18/12/17, 4/1/18, 8/1/18, 15/1/18 and 27/2/18...

Tonight as I write this the craziness of my fortnightly trips north for chemotherapy at times felt surreal as though it was happening to someone else. Thank you to my wonderful family and friends Tim, Deb Jo, Tone and Clint who gave up their time to be my driver and my sounding board. You will never know how much support that gave me. At this point I have to also thank Jo, Ang, & Jen who probably saw me at my worst post-surgery when they came to visit. Your visit meant a lot not just to me but to my family.

I hope one day my chemo journey will become a distant memory but I know I will always be a cancer patient but this bloody thing is not going to beat me. 

I still have side effects and symptoms that plague my everyday life ... pins and needles in my fingers (sometimes you may notice that I have difficulty picking something up it’s because of the neuropathy) and toes, increased sensitivity to the sun, dry mouth and mouth ulcers.

At the beginning I was often asked when will you lose your hair, fortunately for bowel cancer patients this doesn’t happen but it will thin and it did. For a while there I thought I was developing the “Palmer” receding hairline. I was warned at the beginning of my treatment the most difficult thing would be that I wouldn’t look ‘sick’ but once again my wonderful family and friends came to the fore; looking out for me and telling me if I looked tired and making sure I maintained social contact and always had food in the fridge.

Oh how I miss the coffee dates, but it is great to be back at work and have some normality back to life, although I think there are some nights I’m in bed before a lot of the kids.

On Friday I had phone call from my amazing oncologist Dr N, who has prescribed the wonderfully effective cocktail that has been pumping through my body for the last 12 months to tell me that while I remain a complicated patient in a good way for at least the next 10 weeks I will be taking tablets as the first stage of maintenance. Happy days.

Please join me and every other bowel cancer patient in kicking bowel cancer’s butt. Please be aware and while there is not a lot of dignity in doing a bowel screen test it saves lives.

Share your Kick Ass Story

In celebration of International Women’s Day each year, Bowel Cancer Australia raises awareness of bowel cancer in women and shares empowering stories from Aussie women who are kicking bowel cancer’s ass.

Are you a kick ass woman living with or beyond bowel cancer, or do you have a female family member or friend that is?

We’re seeking female volunteers of all ages to share their experiences to help raise awareness of bowel cancer in women as part of our annual Kick Ass: Bowel Cancer In Women initiative in March.

Share your own story and help us kick bowel cancer’s ass.

Simply send us an email to register your interest.

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