Richard M bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 48, NT)

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007. Ironically, I had just given up smoking and was trying to get fit. I was even riding my bike to work for exercise but I was feeling more and more tired. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
Three months prior to my diagnosis, I had been experiencing stomach pains and eventually I ended up in the emergency department of hospital. The doctors there thought I had Crohn’s disease and arranged for me to have a CT scan. That’s when they discovered the tumour. It was Stage 3 with some lymph node involvement but luckily it hadn’t spread to any other organs. Two weeks later I had a laparoscopic right hemicolectomy followed by chemotherapy three weeks later.
The chemotherapy was pretty horrible and tiring. I had this week on, week off for six months. My partner was really supportive, but it was also a tough time for him. He is now just finishing his nurse training.

I wasn’t totally surprised at my diagnosis. My dad had prostate cancer and mum had both breast and cervical cancer. I think I am more like my mum who was a real survivor throughout her cancer. She stayed positive and kept life as normal as possible. I guess this would be my message to others. Keep positive and keep doing the things you normally do as much as possible. Try not to feed into the sympathy from others too much, even if they do mean well, it can be draining. I still walked to work every day and had trips away. A lot of getting through this is mind over matter. I’m still coming to terms with my diet, and psychologically at the first sign of an ache or pain my first thought is that it (the cancer) is back. I don’t know if I will ever get over that feeling – not so much the cancer returning but the thought of ever needing chemo again as it’s pretty disgusting!

It’s now nearly five years on since I finished my treatment and I am cancer free and happy.
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