I was only 26 when I went to my doctor concerned about changes in my bowel habits and feeling very tired. My doctor put it down to stress which frustrated me because I felt I wasn’t being listened to.
I went to the ED and remember crying saying, “I know there is something wrong with me”. Coming from a medical background (registered nurse) I demanded to speak with a gastro specialist. The doctor who came along spoke and listened to me as human being, he was empathetic and asked the right questions. He sent me for an X-ray as he suspected I might have Crohn’s disease.
I went to my GP in early 2009 complaining of tiredness and lethargy, rectal bleeding and a change in my bowel habits. But because of my age and the fact that I had recently given birth, I was given only a blood test and told that further investigation wouldn’t be necessary. The blood test showed low iron levels so my tiredness was put down to that.
My husband Peter was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2012 at age 36. He was referred for a colonoscopy by our GP as he had been experiencing rectal bleeding and a consistent change to his bowel habits.
The colonoscopy results found a tumour which was biopsied and confirmed to be cancerous. Peter was then sent for a CT scan and MRI to confirm locations and check for the possibilities of metastasis.
My symptoms were fairly vague. In January 2010 I had one incident of a very upset tummy, I had had slight rectal bleeding for about 8 months but put it down to having haemorrhoids from having had a baby in the past year, and my bowel movements had been more regular.
I was actually at the GP in January 2010 about getting my moles checked for cancer when right at the end I mentioned the above symptoms. My GP who I now thank for my life, said that at my age I should have nothing and immediately referred me to a gastroenterologist. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind.