27
Jul
2015
Print this page

Rachel's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 38, VIC)

I had been to a GP several times in 2012 and each time I was told I had gastro. I had been to another GP several years earlier with suspected bleeding and was told I had haemorrhoids. I began getting sicker more regularly and for longer each time. I went to another doctor with the sole purpose of getting a referral - he was at a medical centre opened in the evening so it was convenient while juggling family and work. This new GP was very thorough and tested for a couple of things before referring me to a gastroenterologist. I saw the gastroenterologist a week later and had a colonoscopy the week after that on the 19th April. The bowel prep made me sicker than I've ever been - it wasn't flushing me out, I was vomiting bile all night.
 
By the time I woke up from the colonoscopy on the Friday the gastroenterologist had already made me an appointment with a surgeon for Monday. I had a large growth, no haemorrhoids!
 
My surgeon confirmed it was cancer. I had a scan that day to see if it had spread, thankfully it hadn't. I had a sigmoidoscopy on the Tuesday so the surgeon could confirm the position, another meeting with the surgeon Wednesday to confirm surgery and checked into the hospital Sunday night for surgery on the Monday.
 
I had surgery on Monday the 29th April. It wasn't key hole as my surgeon advised there was more success with putting the bowel back together after removing the growth if it was done as open surgery. As the growth was in a good position I didn't need a stoma and I went home 6 days later for a 6 week recovery.
 
I found out that it was Stage 2, which was actually the best I could hope for at that time. Chemotherapy wasn't mandatory but after speaking with an Oncologist and finding out that it was a milder form of chemo, I decided to do it as a precautionary measure. I didn't want to look back in future years and wonder 'what if'. At the time of diagnosis my daughter was only 20 months old so I think that was the greatest impact on me emotionally, wondering if I will still be around for her.
 
Chemo went for 6 months and I was able to continue working during this time. I won't say it was easy, being a working mum was tiring enough without adding this on top! I used to joke that my visits to chemo were for some 'me time'. To date I am all clear and feel positive. My diet has changed somewhat, I try to limit red meat and try not to eat bacon or other processed meats. I'm still working on the sugar side of things! Although most things in life continued as normal, having good support people around me really helped. In my case it was not only my husband, friends and family, but the chemo nurses who were amazing and able to answer all the random questions I had.