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.
At the age of 35 I started experiencing rectal bleeding so my GP recommended I have a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy confirmed three growths located within my bowel. After seeing my GP it all happened within weeks, it all seemed so fast yet very professional.
After being diagnosed I was required to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Two weeks before Christmas I commenced my radiation cycle which included trips to radiology every day for 6 weeks and chemotherapy in a tablet form, which included 3 pills, twice a day.
Over Christmas 2007, I was incredibly sick with what I thought was food poisoning until the sickness quickly turned into severe pain. I decided go to my local hospital in Macksville, where I was admitted for two days and given a colonoscopy to investigate the abdominal pain. The diagnosis was bowel cancer and 10 days later I had surgery. I had 55cm of bowel and 17 lymph nodes removed and fortunately only four nodes were cancerous. I now have a secondary tumour between my bladder and rectum, which we hope will respond to the chemotherapy I’m undergoing.
When I was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer in 2006, I was 45 years old.
I am a wife and a mother of three (now 23, 20 & 16 years old) and an office manager.
I had no family history of bowel cancer and I led a healthy lifestyle before my diagnosis, although I was told further along the process that I carry the HNPCC gene, which is a strong indicator of the disease.