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Leanne's bowel cancer story (diagnosed at 33, VIC)

In January 1994, I lost my Mum to cancer.

She was only 58 years old.

I was 33 years old and a single mum, to a 4 year old daughter.

It was a very difficult time for my dad and our family.

I was working full time, and over the next few months I was starting to have pain on my right side of the stomach.

It would come and go and I also was starting to lose a lot of weight.

As the pain got worse, I developed tingling, numbing feelings in my right hand and in my feet, and my eyesight became blurry.

In July, I had to go to Darwin for my best friend’s wedding.

I felt so tired and weak, but I didn’t want to upset my girlfriend, so I just put up with the pain.

For the next couple of weeks, it just got worse.

I went to see my local doctor and described my symptoms.

They thought at the time it may have been MS, because of my age and the issues I was having.

I remember being so scared, but came to terms with the possibility of having MS.

In September, I had a birthday party for my nephew.

Everyone was concerned about have much weight I had lost.

A couple of days later, I took my daughter to the Royal Melbourne Show.

We were there for a few hours and by the time I got home the pain had started again. This time it didn’t stop.

I went to the toilet and it felt like my bowel had collapsed.

I called my Dad and asked him to get me to the hospital.

I went to emergency and they did a lot of tests.

They booked me in for a colonoscopy two days later.

I was so scared.

Dad took me into the hospital on Monday morning.

I was feeling so dehydrated, hungry and tired after having the prep.

I remembered being weighed and I was 47kgs.

I was taken in to have the procedure.

It was a great sleep, but after they took me to recovery, my specialist came in to see me and said to me, "Sorry, but you won't be going home, you will be having surgery in the morning."

I rang my sister to tell her what was happening.

My family was so upset, they came in to see me, and I asked if they could look after my daughter.

I will always remember the night before surgery.

The nurse came in and she talked to me about what was going to happen in the morning.

She had a black pen, and drew markings on my stomach.

This was in case I had to have a colostomy bag.

That’s was when the reality of what was happening to me set in.

I was so scared.

The following morning, I was taken to surgery.

I remember I could not stop crying.

I woke in recovery and I was shaking
I couldn’t feel very much, but I felt around to see if there was a bag attached to me.

There wasn’t and I felt so relieved.

My specialist came in to see me, and said he was very happy with the way the surgery went and that they were able to completely remove the cancer.

I was in hospital for 10 days, which was followed with 4 weeks of radiotherapy.

It was a slow recovery time at home, with 6 weeks off from work.

I also decided to use meditation and natural remedies for my recovery I really felt that this help me a lot.

I have regular colonoscopies and try and stay fit and healthy.

It is now 2017, and I will be turning 57 in May.

It still amazes me that I went through such a serious illness and I am here to tell my story.

I always hope that my story can help someone who is going through bowel cancer to know that they can have a positive outcome.