Peter G's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 48, QLD)

Upon relocating to Queensland from New South Wales in October 2015, I registered with a GP in my local area, primarily to be able to get prescription renewals for blood pressure medication I was taking.

At the initial consultation my GP took a family history. After noting that my Grandmother on my mother's side had died from bowel cancer at the age of 53, my doctor suggested that I should have a colonoscopy as part of my health management plan.

I didn't act on this immediately. I waited 6 months to make the appointment, and only did this so that when I visited my GP again I wouldn’t get into to trouble for not acting on her advice!

I was scheduled for a colonoscopy on the morning of the 5th August 2016. After waking up from my colonoscopy the Gastroenterologist advised me that he had found 5 polyps, which he removed, and bowel cancer in my lower bowel. This was a complete shock since I had not had any noticeable symptoms.

The Gastroenterologist organised for me to see a surgeon and also booked me in for a CT scan. On the 8th August, I met the surgeon and he conducted an examination, reviewed the CT results with me (which thankfully showed the cancer had not spread), and then explained the options with regards to surgery.

We agreed to have the surgery conducted as quickly as possible. Next I had a blood test and an MRI scan of my pelvis to determine the exact location of the cancer in my bowel.

The operation took place on the 22nd August. It was keyhole surgery. The surgeon advised me on Tuesday morning that he was very happy with how the surgery went and he was waiting for the pathology result to determine next steps.

Luckily, the pathology results showed that there were no signs of cancer cells in any of the 17 lymph nodes that were removed. His thoughts were that as the results were good, there was no need for Chemotherapy. I have since been referred to an Oncologist who confirmed that chemotherapy would not be necessary.

I’m still going through this process. My diagnosis had a huge impact on my life, as well as friends and family. Primarily, it has been shock, considering I am relatively young and fit and never had any signs or symptoms of bowel cancer.

I have decided to take a positive mindset. I believe that there are lots of very talented people who deal with this disease every day, and they will be able to fix it. I am trying to take things step by step and not allow myself to get too far ahead.
Others around me have been very emotional, worrying about what could happen, or why it has happened. Some have reflected on friends and families they have known who have had the disease with both good and bad outcomes! It can get a bit draining listening to the stories of the not so good outcomes (I'm sure people have the best intentions with sharing these stories though).

One thing I have learnt from this process is that there is no downside to being conscientious about your own health. It’s a simple thing to do and the outcome can only be positive as it means if there is something wrong, you are going to do something about it. Don’t be scared to see your doctor. My outcome has been great.
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