Sharon's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 47, QLD)

My journey with bowel cancer came as a surprise to me, even though I have an extensive family history of the disease due to Lynch Syndrome (a type of inherited cancer of the digestive tract).

My mother, brother and uncle have all had bowel cancer and survived to tell the tale. I suppose I thought it wouldn’t happen to me as I have always been healthy, eaten lots of fruit and veggies plus I’m quite a positive person.

However, when I started feeling unwell and lost 6kg in a week, began vomiting, lacked energy and had breathlessness, I knew something was wrong. The symptoms lasted for around a week and at first I thought I must have picked up a virus. However, at the end of the week I experienced an explosion of pain in my lower abdomen and began vomiting. I ended up calling an ambulance and was taken straight to the ED. For four hours I was x-rayed, given ultrasounds and had CT scans. A ruptured tumour was discovered, causing peritonitis, which was so severe my life was in danger.

I was taken for emergency surgery to remove the affected area along with half my bladder which had been perforated. Despite eight days in hospital (two of them in intensive care), I recovered quickly and was back at work three weeks after surgery. I am now on my final round of chemotherapy and so far everything looks good. The cancer has not spread to any other organs and there is no lymph node involvement.

My message would be to stay positive and appreciate the life you have. Enjoy every day! I have a 13 year old son to look after so I just had to get through this so I could take care of him.

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