I had put on some weight around my belly area, but I just put it down to too much good food over Christmas and New Year. One night in February 2017 I got an annoying pain in my lower abdomen which didn't go away, so I made an appointment to see my GP. He was concerned with my expanding belly, so he sent me for an ultrasound straight away.
While having the ultrasound the radiographer asked me to roll onto my side and he began to ultrasound up my side - I immediately knew then something was wrong. "What's wrong" I asked, he said I’ll be back in a minute. When he returned to the room, he said ‘I've just been on the phone to your GP and he would like you to have a CT scan while your here, it looks like you may have an ovarian cyst’. Phew an ovarian cyst that's not so bad I thought. After my CT I was told to go straight back to my GP for the results.
On arrival back at my GP's rooms he came out to meet me and I laughed saying to him ‘I've got a cyst, that's not much to worry about’. In his room he asked me to have a seat and then he proceeded to pull his chair out from behind his desk and sit next to me. My heart sank. I began to shake and cry uncontrollably. I knew then it wasn't a cyst.
I had cancer - a large tumour had been located in my bowel and another one on my ovary. February 20th, 2017 my world changed forever. All I could think of was - I'm too young to have cancer, isn't this an old man’s disease? I'm going to die, what about my husband and kids?
The next few weeks after my diagnosis I was numb, it was like being in a dream - a bad dream.
A few weeks later I was referred to a colorectal surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital for further investigations, who then referred me to another surgeon at Joondalup Hospital who decided to do a laparoscopy immediately so he could determine exactly what was going on in my belly - that was at this stage very swollen and extremely painful.
When I woke from the anaesthetic, I was told that the tumour on my ovary had been removed. The next day I underwent a PET/CT scan and a MRI. From there the news got worse - I was told that I had Stage 4 bowel cancer that had spread to my liver and to my peritoneum. I needed to have an urgent peritonectomy in 2 days’ time as this was my best chance of immediate survival.
So, on the 20th of March 2017 I underwent the mother of all surgeries "A Peritonectomy" which included a full hysterectomy, liver resection, bowel resection, removal of my gall bladder and lymphadenectomy. While still under anaesthetic I had intraperitoneal chemotherapy - chemo delivered directly onto my organs - they were basically being bathed in chemotherapy.
I woke 12 hours later to find I had also been given an ileostomy - great a poo bag to add to my bad luck.
I spent seven days in ICU after this massive surgery, then I was moved onto the ward for another seven days before I could finally go home. The recovery period was long and hard, but I needed to get strong as I was going to have to start chemotherapy in 12 weeks’ time.
I then had 12 rounds of chemotherapy over a period of six months. After the chemotherapy I went into remission, so in January 2018 my ileostomy was reversed - yay goodbye poo bag (I could write another story about life with a bag).
I was in remission and life was good. Unfortunately, my cancer returned in 2019 in my liver, and in August 2019 I again found myself on the operating table undergoing my second peritonectomy and intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
Recovery this time around was not as bad as my first peritonectomy. Although my stay in ICU was a little longer this time round. I had done this before I could do it again.
12 weeks after the surgery I started chemotherapy again, as well as some targeted treatment which had horrible side effects. This time round I nearly gave up - I was ready to throw in the towel.
I lost my hair as a result of the different chemotherapy I was having. But thanks to my loving husband and children, family, friends, work colleagues my oncologist and my surgical oncologist I pushed through and I am still here in 2021 and still in remission - kicking cancers Ass👍