Suzanne's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 50, QLD)

Being diagnosed with bowel cancer is tough. You think you are going to die and you quickly start to re-think your bucket list!

The first indication I had a problem was with a bowel motion I had. When I looked in the toilet bowl, it was full of blood. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a photo as I was later questioned repeatedly about the quantity of blood I had seen. There was a lot of blood! I even called my husband to have a look!

I went to straight to my local hospital and was taken in quickly for blood tests and internal inspections. Initially, the doctor’s first thoughts were internal haemorrhoids. However the following day after having a CT scan, I was informed there was a large mass in my bowel and that it was cancer. I was discharged the following day and (having private health insurance) managed to get an appointment three days later for a colonoscopy. My doctor was amazing and confirmed I had a cancerous mass and booked me in for surgery on June 27.

I had a high anterior resection with approximately 30-40 cm of my bowel removed during surgery. Luckily no lymph nodes were involved and I was classified as having stage 1 bowel cancer. All up I spent six nights in hospital and I found the whole experience quite traumatic. I wish I knew more of what to expect – the catheter, nausea, vomiting and the pain.

I was an emotional mess and trying to be brave. I ended up visiting a psychologist to talk about my experience and to help me deal with what I went through. Now I would love to help other people who are about to have surgery to assist them through the experience. Sometimes partners just don’t understand and it is good to talk to someone else.

In all, I had six weeks off work and six months of no heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. I’m having six monthly CT scans and blood tests and so far, so good.
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