I first started having symptoms in December 2018 - I had some blood in my bowel movements and stomach cramping while going to the toilet. At first, I thought it was food poisoning, but it continued to get worse. By mid-January 2019 there was a lot more blood, and cramping occurred more often, so I decided to get it checked out by my GP.
Often one of the most compelling ways for people to take notice and become aware of an important issue, is to see that other people just like them are affected.
That’s why we share the ‘faces of young-onset bowel cancer’ with Australia (and the world) during Never Too Young Awareness Week and challenge common misconceptions. But we can’t do that alone.
On the 9th April 2018, aged 32 years young, after having a colonoscopy, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After further testing - MRI, PET scan and CT scan, the doctors confirmed the cancer had spread through to the muscle wall and into my pelvis area and my lymph nodes.
The first step of my treatment plan was to have chemo and radiation for 6 weeks to shrink the tumor in my lower rectal area. The next step was having surgery called a pelvic exenteration on the 10th October 2018. The operation took 16 hours where they removed my lower bowel, bladder and prostate. I have now been permanently left with a colostomy and urostomy. I was in hospital for almost 2 months.
We all know someone who has experienced the dreaded Bali Belly. They head to Bali expecting to have the time of their lives and end up spending days in bed with horrible stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhoea until they take enough Imodium and probiotics to kick it!
So when we headed to Bali on Sunday August 28 2016 and I started feeling nauseous on the plane I thought it was nothing more than my stomach not agreeing with the sandwich I ate at the airport. But when we landed in Bali that night I still didn't feel any better so I went straight to bed and hoped to sleep it off and wake up to start what would be an amazing holiday!