Twelve months ago, I visited my GP after experiencing ongoing IBS symptoms. I was sent for immediate blood tests and a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, a tumour which was considered ultra-low, was found and I was referred to a specialist five days later.
Two weeks after seeing the specialist, I had an operation for an ileostomy. I became ill after the operation and was kept in hospital for 17 days and lost a lot of weight. However once I got my strength back (approximately two months later), I began six weeks of chemotherapy (I was hooked up to a small pump 24/7) and at the same time I had 28 radiation zaps, every morning Monday to Friday.
I was very lucky to get the best surgeon possible, he has been amazing. And everybody at the hospitals, I cannot speak highly enough about. With all the bad publicity of the public health system, I am completely thankful and can't fault any of the journey.
Twelve weeks after treatment, I had surgery. It took five and a half hours to get the bastard out. The doctor told me it was a bit of a mongrel, but he was confident he got it all. My biopsy results showed all was good and the lymph nodes removed for testing came back 100% clear.
I took the optional extra of a second round of chemo – 16 weekly doses every Tuesday morning with the last one on New Year's Eve. What a great way to finish 2013.
Fortunately I am a very positive person. In fact, I became the one supporting close friends and relatives around me who were affected by my cancer more than me. I told everybody the day I was diagnosed, I will beat the 'bastard' and I did.
I am so grateful for the many hours Jacqui, my partner, spent by my hospital bed and supported me through my recovery. The daily visits at home by Mum helped every step. Hospital visits, home visits, emails from around the CAEM world, Facebook messages, get well cards and phone calls meant the world to me. And to all the people who didn't know how to handle my cancer and therefore didn't raise the subject, that's fine. I completely understand.
Again, I sit here today, exactly 12 months after being told I had bowel cancer, knowing I am so lucky. Lucky I was diagnosed, lucky I got through the journey and lucky for the wonderful love and support received.
I look forward to a wonderful 2014 and beyond, and look forward to watching my grandchildren grow and enjoy every day.