Margaret's bowel cancer story (husband diagnosed age 65, NSW)

My husband performed his BowelScreen test in April 2013 and the results came back two weeks later informing him he had a positive result. 

Our GP organised for my husband to see a specialist and he was referred for a colonoscopy in May, which located a bowel tumour immediately.

We were initially told it was a low grade stage III cancer of the bowel. After six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy it was considered a stage II bowel cancer.

My husband received 28 radiation zaps and six weeks of Xeloda tablets seven days a week. Eight weeks later he had surgery to remove the tumour and was given a loop ileostomy and colostomy bag.

The stoma was reversed after eight weeks (just two weeks ago) so everything is going along ok, besides erratic bowel motions which we were prepared for. There have been a few other hiccups related to my husband’s prior medical history, but the specialists have been helpful in balancing between all of the medications and treatments once they start disrupting each other.

I have attended all of my husband’s medical appointments, and feel we have been well supported throughout this experience. It is strange though, being on the other side for a change. I worked with aged care for many years as a carer and chaplain visiting many patients. At the time I thought I felt empathy for the patients and families I met, but I have discovered that you truly do not understand what people are going through until you are going through it yourself. There is just so much to take in and so much to keep up with as you go to each appointment, schedule what is next etc.

We are only now just getting back into our social lives again. My husband has started back at bowls, which he loves, and I am looking forward to seeing my friends each week like I used to.

So many people we speak to now know all about bowel cancer, and it is amazing how many people we have encouraged to do their test and not leave it on the shelf. We tell them FOB kits weren’t designed for the bin – they were designed to help save lives. It certainly saved my husband!

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