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Monica's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 85, QLD)

My bowel cancer diagnosis was a huge shock.

I had been experiencing frequent constipation, a general change in bowel habits and some rectal bleeding, all of which my GP felt needed further investigation. I was referred for a colonoscopy and endoscopy in order to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Within 36 hours of undergoing these procedures, I was in surgery having a hemicolectomy (a colon resection) and was discharged less than a week later. Thankfully, I wasn’t fitted with a stoma. Everything happened so quickly – too quickly, one might say – so it was hard to digest everything that was happening to me. I was discharged with an infection in my wound and a urinary tract infection, which made me feel very unwell and extremely unsupported.

I really do not know much about my diagnosis because, six weeks later, I have still not seen my surgeon. I do not know if I require chemotherapy or further treatment, or what my prognosis is. I have been given so little information, in or out of hospital, that I have been left feeling very disillusioned.

I don’t cook much these days, but I always try to eat something from each of the five food groups every day. Sadly, I have had a very poor appetite since the surgery.

I have never really felt depressed before. I loved my career, continued to learn throughout my life and have always been an active member of my community. But since having bowel cancer, I get teary quite often and sometimes feel very alone.

I look forward to being able to speak to another person who understands what I am going through. And I also look forward to spreading awareness about bowel cancer – later, once I get back to feeling my normal self again.