Steve's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 66, NSW)

Three weeks prior to my diagnosis I had been sent a National Bowel Screen Kit. I looked at it and thought, “I should really do that one day”.

Needless to say, I left the kit on the bench and three weeks later ended up seeing my GP on a Wednesday afternoon for a prescription. At the time I complained of having had a slight pain in my abdomen. The GP asked to examine my abdomen and it was then he felt a mass.

The GP was quite concerned and asked that I go to the local hospital that evening for a scan. The scan showed a thickening of the wall of the transverse colon. A subsequent colonoscopy indicated a mass and some polyps in the colon and a further scan showed some nodes on the lymph glands.

I have since seen a surgeon and he believes I need to have surgery within the next two weeks to remove the mass, polyps and as many nodes as he can find. So far it seems I will need my ascending transverse and descending colon removed.

According to my colonoscopy, my bowel is almost blocked. The nodes are visible on the lymph glands but other organs appear to have no infection. It has been indicated that a stoma will not be necessary at this stage, so fingers crossed.

Looking back over the last six months, all I can really say I have experienced is a change of bowel habit and occasional stomach pains. My blood tests show I have had an extreme loss of blood since my last full blood count. This was of great concern to my doctor, yet I never saw visible blood in the toilet. I recall just over six months ago passing a very dark tarry stool which did not smell normal, but never had it happen again, so I didn’t worry about it.

The diagnosis has unsettled me but I am reconciled to going through the treatment process and hoping for the best. I do wish I had visited my GP a little more for the occasional check-up. You don’t realise how important it is until you find out news like this. I will certainly be going to my local Men’s Shed with the materials Bowel Cancer Australia have sent me in order to get the message out there to the other men. Having tests done involving our backside is something we men tend to shy away from.

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