I am a 32-year-old teacher, mother of two beautiful girls aged one and three and wife of to a wonderful husband. In April this year, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Before my diagnosis I felt extremely tired – still capable of working but unusually fatigued. Given that I’d had my second child less than 18 months earlier, I just put it down to being busy. I also had some odd digestive symptoms: I’d feel sick after a large meal, get stomach pains after eating fatty food and have unusual bowel motions after drinking milk.
In summary, over the last two years I have had three operations, two colonoscopies, six weeks of chemo/radiation, four months of chemotherapy, an ileostomy, a hernia on my bowel surgery scar, gone through instant menopause and had to give up work.
However, since going through bowel cancer, all my tests have been clear and my last CT is in September 2013, which will be two years since the operation.
I had been seeing bright red blood in my stools for between four and six weeks before I saw a doctor.
Because a similar thing had happened after my children (now four and six years old) were born, the experience wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me. I felt otherwise OK and my energy levels were normal. Nothing felt unusual or different.
Unlike many people, I had a lot of symptoms before I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
I saw my doctor many times about the ongoing pains in my stomach, back and bottom and the mucous in my bowel motions but was told I was probably suffering emotional strain or irritable bowel syndrome.
I was given blood tests but they never revealed anything significant. It felt like doctors gave me the run-around for nearly a year until I finally found one who took me seriously.
Over Christmas 2007, I was incredibly sick with what I thought was food poisoning until the sickness quickly turned into severe pain. I decided go to my local hospital in Macksville, where I was admitted for two days and given a colonoscopy to investigate the abdominal pain. The diagnosis was bowel cancer and 10 days later I had surgery. I had 55cm of bowel and 17 lymph nodes removed and fortunately only four nodes were cancerous. I now have a secondary tumour between my bladder and rectum, which we hope will respond to the chemotherapy I’m undergoing.