Melinda's bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 26, NSW)

At 21 years old, I first noticed blood in my stools and sought advice from two different GP’s. They both assured me it was from internal haemorrhoids. At 25 years old, with a one-year-old baby boy, I had significant bleeding and other symptoms I could no longer ignore and demanded that my GP refer me to a gastroenterologist.

The specialist I saw assured me bleeding was never normal and booked me in for a colonoscopy. At my first colonoscopy, multiple polyps were found and removed. Some were pre-cancerous, and I was advised to come back again in two years.

Mentally I could not wait the two years, so after one year at 26 years old, and with a 6-month-old baby girl, I went back and had another colonoscopy. This time, many more polyps were found and one turned out to be malignant. Luckily it was found early and had not spread to the lining of my bowel or anywhere else, so I didn’t need to have chemotherapy or radiation etc.

Had I not listened to my gut, my story would be very different.

Unfortunately, due to the amount and location of all my polyps I had to have a bowel re-section. This operation was long and very stressful for my family.  it involved a week in hospital and a 12-week recovery at home. The operation was a success though, and I was able to return to my normal life quite quickly, although, it took years for me to mentally process all that happened while trying to take care of my two young children.

It has been 5 years since my operation, and I now have colonoscopies every 2 years due to having serrated polyposis syndrome. 

I know I am one of the lucky ones, and I share my story freely with anyone who will listen, just in case it makes someone go and get themselves a check-up that can save their life.

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