When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer I did not have enough time to feel ‘sad’ or ‘worry’ too much. I am naturally an optimistic person and an ‘action man’. “I can get through this!” I thought to myself.
Prior to my diagnosis at age 26, I had been experiencing dull pains in my pelvic area for 3 to 4 years, extending up through to my belly button and around to the right side of my body.
Life was great. I was fit and active, looking forward to the Melbourne Cup long weekend when to make things even better it was made official that I had been given my dream job - perfect!
I didn’t play cricket that weekend as I hadn’t trained because I didn’t feel up to it, and after the usual washouts and byes at the start of the season I couldn’t really get too motivated. Every time I trained I struggled but that’s what happens when you hit 41 years of age and you try to keep up with teenagers and fit tradies.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 47. I had taken a Rotary Bowelscan test (FOBT) and, when it returned a positive result in May, my GP referred me to a specialist. I was given a colonoscopy in June and told I had a 10 per cent chance of having cancer… turns out, I was in that unlucky 10 per cent! In July I had a bowel resection. Looking back, it all happened so quickly.
I felt I coped really well with the cancer at the time but I experienced more problems about seven years later. I suffered depression and was forced into medical retirement due to poor bowel control, all of which coincided with my father’s death. I think I just bottled up all my emotions, and it wasn’t until I finally saw my GP that I was encouraged to talk about my experiences.