I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in January 2014 at age 47. I had first experienced some bleeding and consulted my GP in August 2013 about it. He said it was very common complaint and as I had no risk factors including no family history to come and see him if it didn’t resolve itself in a few months. The bleeding became worse and I also experienced mucus discharge on some occasions and changes in bowel habits with increased frequency.
I was pretty sure everything was OK but just to make sure I took a deep breath and looked on the Bowel Cancer Australia web site. The one thing that really jumped out at me was that 90% of colorectal cancer can be cured if it was caught early enough. I asked myself what percentage I wanted to be in and really it was a no brainer. So I figured if it was cancer and it could be fixed it was best to get that done and not stick my head in the sand and hope it goes away.
I believe it is important for all of us to fight to be healthy. After experiencing years of diarrhoea and stomach pain, Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer at age 55.
After a urinary infection that persisted, Mum’s doctor suggested an ultrasound where ‘masses’ were discovered on her bowels. She was then referred for an abdomen scan.
In 2007, the government sent out free bowel cancer test kits to a range of people and I did my test as soon as I received it. The results indicated blood in my samples and I was told to see my GP immediately. I wasn't overly worried at this stage because I had seen blood in my stools on and off for some time and had always put this down to taking iron tablets, which can cause dietary problems like constipation.
After my GP appointment, things started to move very quickly, with a colonoscopy, blood tests, injections, a CT scan, an MRI and visits to a specialist surgeon.