Sandy's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 38, NSW)

Was it not for me having a totally random check-up back in 1999, I would not be alive today.  Still to this day I’m not quite sure what got me to go and have a check up as I was fit and healthy, but what happened next still amazes me.

My Gastroenterologist calls me the “luckiest girl in the world” as having that check up saved my life.  Being told at 28 years old that had I not come in for a check-up I would have only had a couple of years to live was a huge wake up call for me.

So to me, raising bowel cancer awareness is not just some slogan to pass around and take lightly, it is my life.

Because I was aware......I am here today and I am writing this.  I am living proof that raising awareness is so important as it would greatly reduce the number of people who are affected by bowel cancer each year, and I’m sure we all know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease.

I started climbing mountains in 2001 right after my big operation.  I had a total Colectomy Ileo Rectal Anastamosis - the removal of my whole large intestine! 

Having that operation totally changed the direction of my life.  It gave me a sense of having to achieve something. I was told that after my operation I would not be able to do many things, I thought I would have to quit my job, and would not be able to do physically demanding things, but that is where I decided to push myself and try and climb a mountain, something that was totally foreign to me. 

I wanted to get out there and “live life” since I felt that I had been given a second opportunity to get out there and do something.

I climbed my first mountain in November 2001 and have never looked back. Since then I have climbed Mera Peak and Island Peaks in Nepal, numerous smaller mountains in New Zealand, Mustaga Atta in Western China, Cho Oyu in Tibet, Mt Fuji in winter, attempted Mt Everest in 2008 and but didn’t summit. In 2009 I spent time climbing in New Zealand , climbed Mt Blanc in France and then Matterhorn in Switzerland. 

I was hoping to attempt a mountain in Nepal in November last year called Ama Dablam but bad luck came my way the day I was leaving and I ended up falling over in Sydney and breaking a very important bone in my foot so it was good bye to Nepal for me......for the time being.

I was really hoping to climb Ama Dablam as I was looking at it as a practise climb for my second Everest attempt in May 2010.

If sharing my life experience with the public will help promote awareness of Bowel Cancer and help to save lives, if I can achieve this just by being “who I am” and “doing what I do” I’m all for it!

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