I was only 26 when I went to my doctor concerned about changes in my bowel habits and feeling very tired. My doctor put it down to stress which frustrated me because I felt I wasn’t being listened to.
I went to the ED and remember crying saying, “I know there is something wrong with me”. Coming from a medical background (registered nurse) I demanded to speak with a gastro specialist. The doctor who came along spoke and listened to me as human being, he was empathetic and asked the right questions. He sent me for an X-ray as he suspected I might have Crohn’s disease.
In 2000 I was diagnosed with pneumonia. While I was in hospital the specialist did a cancer marker test which came back really high. However the subsequent colonoscopy was not very clear as the prep had not been very effective.
In September 2011 I underwent a second colonoscopy as I was experiencing continual bad diarrhoea. During the procedure a carcinoid tumour was discovered.
My mum was in her mid to late 40s when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She died at the age of 50, when I was 27, 11 years ago this year.
Mum had experienced symptoms for some time, starting with bowel upsets, stomach pain and changes in her bowel habits. The doctors suggested it was gastro, then Irritable Bowel Syndrome - you name it, they suggested it. When I look back it felt as though they were fobbing her off. They never suggested looking into what was causing the problems.
It’s hard not having control and not knowing what is happening.
I first went to my GP in Nov 2011 after a government bowel screen test sent back a positive result for blood in the stools. My GP recommended a colonoscopy, which I had in late February 2012. I was shocked to find out I had rectal cancer. There was no indication and no family history of bowel cancer either.