During a routine pap smear in August 2011, I mentioned to my doctor that I’d had an uncle who died from bowel cancer at only 51. Immediately the doctor suggested I give a stool sample and, when the results came back positive, a colonoscopy was arranged. A small tumour was found during the procedure, which fortunately was only at stage one.
My doctors recommended surgery to remove the tumour as my best option so I went ahead with an operation. No stoma was required. I started chemotherapy after surgery to help minimise the risk of the cancer returning and was given 5-FU, Oxaliplatin, FOLFOX and Leucovorin. The chemotherapy caused a little nausea and made me feel tired at times, but overall it was actually better than I expected. I was given the all clear after surgery but I will know for sure when I have a follow up colonoscopy in August 2012, plus I need to have blood tests every 3 months for the next 12 months.
In early November 2010 I noticed some weight loss and a change in my bowel habits, including rectal bleeding. I went to the doctor in mid-November and was diagnosed with anaemia and booked in for a colonoscopy later that month. I was told on the day of the colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer.
The next step was surgery, a high anterior resection, which was done in mid-December.
It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to dwell on what was going on, but it never occurred to me before my diagnosis that I might have bowel cancer. I was so young and so busy caring for my two beautiful teenage children that I just didn’t think I was a likely candidate for the disease. But my father had a very similar surgery just eight weeks before mine so it can certainly be said that bowel cancer runs in my family.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2010 at the age of 31.
My bowel habits had started to change about two years before, including small amounts of blood on the toilet paper, but I had been told earlier that I had a haemorrhoid so I thought that might explain the bleeding. I was also diagnosed with anaemia just before I fell pregnant about a year after; I would later learn that anaemia can be an indicator of bowel cancer.
It wasn’t until two months after giving birth that I went to see my GP about the bleeding, who referred me to a specialist for a sigmoidoscopy. Three weeks after my initial appointment, I was given a colonoscopy and the surgeon who performed it told me they had probably found cancer. Later that week I had an MRI and a CT scan and the diagnosis was confirmed. Thankfully no secondary cancers were found.
I started experiencing a change in my bowel habits, stomach pains and rectal bleeding in February 2010 so I saw my GP and was sent for blood tests to investigate the cause of the problems. The results came back normal. However, a month later when the bleeding persisted I was referred for a colonoscopy in mid April.
The colonoscopy revealed a 4cm tumour on my sigmoid colon.