Matt's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 34, QLD)

Prior to my diagnosis, I was an elite athlete within touch football (refereeing) having represented Australia numerous times since 2010, the most recent international tournament in April 2016. I was ranked No: 1 in QLD, No: 2 in Australia and third in the world.

I first went to my GP in late 2014 for treatment for haemorrhoids and was referred to a specialist. I revisited my specialist in early 2016 as my younger brother had had appendicitis in late 2014 and during that procedure a tumour on his large intestine was discovered. He underwent surgery to have it removed but it was recommended his brothers get checked.

For that reason I requested a colonoscopy and during the procedure an ulcerated tumour was discovered. Further scans and analysis revealed it was an adenocarcinoma stage 3B cancer.

In June 2016 I was in surgery to have the cancer removed however four days later, I was rushed back into surgery after suffering a number of complications including a twisted bowel and small leak where the bowel had been re-joined after removing the portion that contained the cancer.

Following surgery, I remained heavily sedated with memory blockers and during that time I also had an ileostomy to assist with the recovery of my bowel. When I woke up I was on life support and in the ICU. I remained there until June 18 and spent a total of 31/2 weeks in hospital.

Initially when I returned to the ward, I had a number of daily procedures performed under x-ray and further surgery to clean/flush the wound site. This was in addition to being connected to many drips, drains, and adjusting to the ileostomy.

Throughout the whole process I have been very open on social media to my friends about what I’ve been through and have maintained an extremely positive outlook. That has been my strength. In addition to keeping a positive outlook, I’ve also kept my focus on what I can and cannot control. When I was first told about the cancer I knew I couldn’t change my situation but I could take the advice of my doctors and the procedures I went through as it saved my life.

I believe the skills I learnt while competing within the sport and at an elite level (self-discipline, handling disappointment etc.) prepared me for this fight as I battle and recover from cancer.
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