In June 2004, I was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.
I was horrified when the first surgeon I saw was adamant that I had to have a colostomy. So I started seeking advice and was recommended to another surgeon who said there was a 50/50 chance I could have a temporary ileostomy and a reversal, but that he wouldn't know until he operated.
I was overjoyed when I came out of the anaesthetic to hear him say "we did it".
I started chemotherapy (5-FU) treatment after surgery but, over time, it began to feel as if my body was ‘broken down’. The treatment really took it out of me. For example, I had to rest after climbing stairs and it started to feel like I had absolutely no quality of life at all. Eventually I ended up back in hospital. My oncologist stopped any further chemo treatment and organised extra scans and blood tests.
I had to wait until I had regained some of my strength before I could have my ileostomy reversed and once again I was overjoyed, but now I am seriously considering having a colostomy, because I am incontinent. There is also some associated pain and discomfort and I am prevented from taking part in some activities.
The good thing is that I passed the five year mark and was given the all clear, even though I worry from time to time that the cancer might return or reappear in another part of my body, but I think it’s probably normal to feel this way.
My husband and friends were very supportive, for which I am very grateful but thinking back on it everything happens so quickly and it wasn't easy getting all the advice I needed.