My story started in 2006, my dear mother was diagnosed at age 74. Her bowel cancer had metastasised to her liver, and she passed away in 2007.
Around the same time my younger brother was also in hospital with the same diagnosis. He was 43 and had blood clots in his legs, and we were worried he might have to have them amputated. He fought hard as he had a two-year-old son to live for, but he suffered physically and mentally from the chemo.
My sister, my older brother and I were going from ward to ward to see both mum and our brother. We did not tell our mum that her youngest son was also dying from the same diagnosis. She passed away in August that year.
I had no symptoms, but I insisted I have a colonoscopy to check for bowel cancer too.
I was told to wait until I was 50. I was 46 at the time but I pointed out my brother was only 43 so I finally got my colonoscopy in February 2008.
They found a 4cm tumour. I was devastated. We had lost our mum six months earlier and we were caring for and watching our brother dying. All I could think of was that my kids still needed me.
My diagnosis was Stage 2. The cancer had penetrated the inner bowel lining but had not penetrated all the way through. I had a bowel resection where they removed 30cm of bowel and an eight-inch triangle of lymph nodes.
I had a wait a very long week to find out if my lymph nodes were affected. They were not. I had a choice of having chemo or not. I chose not to.
I had watched both my mum and my brother suffer badly the last 18 months, and I had a child with type one diabetes who needed me to stay alert and on top of things to draw up tiny precise doses of insulin every day. I am fortunate that it was a good call.
I have been cancer free since my surgery in March 2008. My dear brother passed away in October of 2008. It was a really hard two years for our family.
My recovery was slow, it took around four years for my bowel to return to normal working order. I still have some issues 12 years later.
I was fortunate I did not need a colostomy bag like my brother had needed. I did develop a really large hernia along my tummy area scarring which needed additional surgery a few years later.
I am blessed to still be in this earth and to be able to be here for my kids.