I am a mother of 3 adult children 22, 24 and 26 and I’m looking forward to my next chapter of being a grandparent.
My father at 61 had a few cells in the sigmoid colon and had 5cm removed, no further treatment and is a young 77yr old.
At 45 I thought I should check due to any hereditary factors. Life was busy and the thought of a colonoscopy wasn’t appealing.
4 years later, my husband, 53, went to the doctors for a full comprehensive check-up. I decided I should also. I was 49.
I told the GP of my father and they said they flag test 10 years earlier than his diagnosed age. I was given a stool test and booked in for a colonoscopy. Stool test came back two out of three positive for blood. I said to the GP, my bowel habits have been regular all my life and no haemorrhoids and no blood had been seen. The GP said you won’t see blood if it starts high in your colon.
Colonoscopy found a 6 cm tumour at the beginning of my ascending colon. The next day I had a CT scan to see if I had any other tumours. Waiting for the pathology of the tumour and CT scan was extremely difficult. Within 48 hours I was diagnosed with Stage one dysplasia.
Over those 48 hours, knowing tumour was 6 cm, led me to believe I would be a further stage cancer. During this wait, I asked the GP for help with my anxiety navigating this new territory. I felt alone in my emotions as my family contained any emotions to be strong and positive for me. This wasn’t good for me I needed to see and feel my family’s concerns.
The only symptoms I had for a few years was pain like ovary pain on my right side. I had a history of cysts.
Due to the size of the tumour (ascending colon is only 6.6cm in diameter) my surgery was booked within five weeks.
A right hemicolectomy was done, removal of some small intestine also as there was a 2 cm tumour behind the 6cm one. In total 35cm and the lymph nodes were removed. Pathology results were quicker than expected which was welcomed. No cancer cells in my lymph nodes. Therefore, I did not need further radiation or chemotherapy now having the initial diagnosis of a 6 cm tumour you would think that the stage of cancer and treatment would have definitely been different to mine.
I want to share my story because all the medical professionals said if I had of waited until my 50th birthday bowel cancer test kit in the mail my story would be very different. Therefore, early intervention is of absolute paramount. I thank my angels for sending my husband for a full comprehensive health check-up. My story is definitely all about the timing.
I would like to say I have expressed to my GP that the lack of emotional/psychological support during this process. I would like to see pamphlets, or some resources given to patients along the way.
8 months since my operation I have days where my scars make me feel sad. Some days I’m grateful for the early finding and the outcome. Some days I feel like it’s unfair as I’ve had a healthy life. Some days I worry something will show up again.
My digestive system is a little different, it can be quicker and looser as the ascending colon absorbs liquids. I will now prioritise my health check-ups.
Wherever I can, I share my story and ask people over the age of 50 if they’ve done their test or is it sitting in the drawer?