Hi I’m Jessie and I’m now 27 years old and a survivor of bowel cancer.
My mum had bowel cancer twice at the age of 26 so I knew the signs to look out for but never really thought I would be affected by it so young. I was due for my colonoscopy whilst pregnant with my first born but was hesitant as I knew the risk of having it done whilst pregnant, I sought advice from the gastroenterologist at the local hospital and he assured me saying “I bet my balls your next scope will be fine” so I left happy that it will be safe to wait for the next few month and just have my check up after my baby was born.
At the age of 24 with a three month old son I went for my routine colonoscopy and was told I had an ulcer in my bowel. The doctor then proceeded to tell me that it was a fair size and I would definitely have to have some sort of operation. I left, confused and extremely upset, clenching to my baby boy and husband. I was so lucky that at the time I had a great GP, I rang her crying - wanting advice and information.
She saw me straight away and helped me as much as she could. I started on anti-depressants to get me through the next tough stage of my life. I just went home and cried, I remember waking up on the middle of the night just screaming thinking I was stuck in a horrible nightmare.
The next few weeks was horrible waiting for the operation, I had an MRI that showed a tumour and it looked like I was going to need chemotherpay but was told to wait until after the surgery to find out for sure. It soon enough came around and by that stage I was feeling a bit more positive. I had an amazing surgeon who took out approximately 70% of my large bowel. I was extremely lucky not to need a colostomy bag; along with the amazing news that he got it all which meant I wouldn’t need to go through chemotherapy.
My tumour was sent away for analysis and I was informed that I have Lynch syndrome which is a genetic mutation. We have since found out that my Mum also has this and wasn’t aware of until my diagnosis . The last few years have been up and down with lots of testing but amazing things in my life have happened like having another baby boy. I’m now healthier than ever and want to raise awareness in young people that bowel cancer can happen at any age . Health professionals also need to be aware of this as I have had so many doctors and nurses say, "Oh you so young to have had bowel cancer."
For further information on bowel cancer and genetic inheritance visit https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/genetics