Mandi's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 29, NSW )

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 24 years old, just before I was due to leave for Europe with a group of girlfriends after finishing university.

I had experienced some bleeding from my rectum only one week prior to this time, but at the time I really wasn’t too fussed about getting it looked at because I was so excited about my European adventure, and because of my age.

Luckily for me, Mum demanded I see our GP to get a professional opinion on the cause of the bleeding, and the GP ordered a colonoscopy. It’s thanks to Mum’s persistence that they discovered my tumour (stage III) when they did. My doctors believe it may have been there for up to two years.

Less than a week later, I had surgery to remove the tumour and fit a temporary stoma. I then started on a course of chemotherapy which lasted for six months. My ileostomy was reversed nine months after surgery, which I was so grateful for, and my chemotherapy treatment also came to an eventual end.

It is hard to explain just how much of a shock the diagnosis was. It seemed so unfair and it was completely unexpected – I was too young to be a bowel cancer sufferer. We believe that we may have a family history of the disease but there were no other indications that it might happen to me.

I’m so happy to be able to say that I am now in remission. And I finally made it to Europe with my husband - I loved every bit of it!

If there is one piece of advice I could give to anyone reading this, it’s this. Never lose hope! You can beat bowel cancer.

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