In August 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer. I was 5 days off my 40th Birthday and I'm still fighting my battle with cancer.
Being a mum of two and having a soul mate that is my rock!
The symptom I experienced was and sporadic blood in my stools, and I was always on the toilet. I was booked in for a “precautionary” colonoscopy. Unfortunately, it got to the point that I ended up taking myself to our local ED department for further symptoms.
I was told in hospital they’d found a large suspicious tumour in my bowel, seemingly grown undetected. And I would need to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and in that time, they also gave me a stoma "called Fred".
My medical team’s advice was to “go hard, right now” with chemotherapy, 28 rounds of radiation, surgery and a further round of chemotherapy for future proofing. Unfortunately, it has spread to my liver and lungs, with further surgery to remove tumours from my liver.
I'm still here after 6yrs.
While still continuing treatment and with the cancer in my liver and lungs, I’ve emerged stronger and will still fight this journey and am forever grateful my body sent me the signals to act on.
Tragically, I know others aren’t as fortunate. The treatment side effects were brutal but so worth it.
I share my story to raise much needed awareness around young onset bowel cancer, particularly for young mums. Too often I hear mums reporting symptoms consistent with bowel cancer only to get dismissed or told they’re simply legacy symptoms of childbirth.
So please…. get your bits and bobs checked! No shame, embarrassment OR complacency. It may save your life, I’m hoping it has saved mine.
The incidence of young onset bowel cancer is scarily increasing and not enough is being done about this. Early detection is critical but with the screening age starting at 50, perception remains that bowel cancer is an “older person’s” disease. The screening age must be reduced, as well as greater research into why the incidence is increasing. More awareness is also crucial.