Nicole's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 41, VIC)

My mother passed away with breast cancer when I was 10, so I have always been diligent with screening and looking after my health.  I would go to my doctor on a regular basis to make sure everything was all OK.

In February of this year I had been quite tired, had a lot of back and abdominal pain so I went for a check-up with my GP.  Blood tests taken read an Hb of 72 so I was called immediately to go to hospital for a blood transfusion.  From there I underwent a colonoscopy and gastroscopy to find out where the blood loss was coming from.

The diagnosis came back as me having bowel cancer and secondary liver cancer.  The treatment I received was the immediate removal of the bowel cancer tumour followed four weeks later by chemotherapy to help shrink the tumour located in the liver.  There was no stoma required.

I continue to have chemotherapy (Fluorouracil (5-FU) & FOLFOX (5-FU + Oxaliplatin) and Avastin), as I have been told the tumours are inoperable but hopefully the chemo will help to slow their progression.

Recently I have been told there are also a few nodes located near my aorta, but fortunately they have been shrinking with my chemo.  I have had to resign from work to continue my chemotherapy treatments.

I have some regrets since being diagnosed with bowel cancer, due to the fact that I never thought to have a colonoscopy nor was it recommended to me.  But my symptoms were not related to my bowel – at least I didn’t think so.

The symptoms I have suffered since starting chemo are nausea, bowel changes, diarrhoea, constipation and back pain.

I am scared for my 1 and 2 year old sons.  After losing my mother when I was 10, I am angry that I didn't really see any obvious signs.  I am determined to fight the cancer and beat it for my sons!  I would recommend anyone reading this to please discuss bowel cancer with your family.  Don’t get told you’re too young to have bowel cancer.  Do what your intuition tells you.  My family is now all getting tested, and I hope it will prevent any of them going through what I am.

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