After two years of what I thought was a dairy intolerance I was finally sent for a colonoscopy in January 2020. The prep was a breeze and not what I was expecting from all of the horror stories I heard and read.
My husband dropped me off and I said I would call when I was ready to be picked up, not thinking there would be anything sinister. I woke to the lovely nurse and was offered my cup of tea and salad.
Not long after my husband appeared, and the doctor followed closely behind. He made chit chat and asked how I was, in response I said ‘good’ but you tell me how I am. Then he went on to explain they had found a 4.5 cm tumour which he thought was cancer and had taken a biopsy.
After I heard the word cancer, I didn’t take in anything else. My world collapsed. We had two young girls aged 7 and 10 and it was actually their first day back at school for the year and all I could think was one day they would be coming home from school without me there.
I was told to book in with my GP ASAP and they would put a rush on my biopsy. Those 24 hours were the longest in my life. The next day the GP informed us that it was a slow growing tumour and he had spoken to another of my doctors and they had organised bloods, a CT scan and an appointment with a surgeon the following week.
The Monday finally came and we got to the surgeon’s appointment and I was so nervous I didn’t think I could actually get up and walk in. I did and he told us that thankfully it had not spread and was in my descending colon and because of where it was, I may have needed a stoma.
We filled out the paperwork and within three weeks I was booked in for surgery, had been measured up for the stoma and had work and everyone in the family organised for the week I was in hospital. COVID was just taking over the world so visitors would be limited.
The surgery went well but after waking up my heart rate skyrocketed and the surgeons were worried I had a clot. So I was taken for a CT scan. There was no clot and no explanation, but I think I was having a panic attack.
I recovered well and finally got sent home to recover some more. Two weeks passed and we had a call saying I would need to see an oncologist as I had 7 out of 24 lymph nodes invaded and I would need chemo.
I had recovered well enough that I could start chemo after 4 weeks. 8 cycles of Capecitabine and Oxaliplatin was the plan and with a wonderful oncologist and team of nurses we got through with only 1 hospitalisation and 1 dose change in 6 months.
COVID lockdown was the kicker and because of this, border closures, home-schooling, not being able to see family or take anyone to my treatments it made me feel quite alone and very stressed. Being sick and tired from the chemo was hard on all of us especially trying to keep up with schoolwork and being together all the time.
At the end of my treatment and after the majority of lockdowns, we celebrated my first test post chemo being cancer free with a weekend away with friends.
I am now three years cancer free and thankful to all of my family and healthcare team for their support and strength.
My one piece of advice, always listen to your body and never take no for an answer. You know your body better than anyone!