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.
On the 9th April 2018, aged 32 years young, after having a colonoscopy, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After further testing - MRI, PET scan and CT scan, the doctors confirmed the cancer had spread through to the muscle wall and into my pelvis area and my lymph nodes.
The first step of my treatment plan was to have chemo and radiation for 6 weeks to shrink the tumor in my lower rectal area. The next step was having surgery called a pelvic exenteration on the 10th October 2018. The operation took 16 hours where they removed my lower bowel, bladder and prostate. I have now been permanently left with a colostomy and urostomy. I was in hospital for almost 2 months.
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).