My name is Bob and I'm 76 years old. I’m what some people call a cancer survivor.
My message to anyone out there reading this would be to stay positive and keep moving forward. Despite what I’ve been through I feel better now than I have in a long time. Prior to my diagnosis, I hadn’t been feeling well for some time. A driving holiday to Melbourne prompted me to see a doctor. I was fine sitting down but as soon as I stood up I had to rush to a toilet.
Back in Sydney my GP sent me off for blood tests and a CT scan. The results showed my tumour markers were up so things were not looking good. After a CT scan and MRI, a specialist performed a colonoscopy at the end of May 2011 and confirmed I had a Stage three rectal tumour.
But I’m only 39!! Cancer. Bowel cancer! How can I possibly have bowel cancer? I’m only 39!
And there I was. Only 39 years of age, living in Singleton NSW and working in the best job I'd ever had in my life, and I'd had plenty. Married with kids. Just bought the first house I had ever owned. I was fairly happy, even though the job brought with it a lot of high pressure self-imposed stress. I loved it and the future was assured.
Prior to her diagnosis in 2006, my wife’s concerns about her health were dismissed as a trivial condition because her only symptoms were occasional and very slight rectal bleeding.
Each time she raised her concerns with her GP, the GP thought the bleeding was related to other things such as beetroot (we ate a lot of vegetables) or haemorrhoids. However after insisting, her GP finally ordered a colonoscopy which showed my wife had late stage bowel cancer, with metastases in the liver and lungs (stage 4).
I’ve seen the effects of bowel cancer first hand and know I never want to go through it. My Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2000. He was just 49 years old. He had had some rectal bleeding and back pain so went to the GP who sent him for a colonoscopy.
After this plus scans and blood tests, Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer which had spread to the liver. He had successful surgery to remove the cancer from the bowel but when the surgeons opened him up to remove the tumour from his liver, they discovered it had wrapped around the aorta so removal wasn’t possible.