My bowel cancer story started in September of 2018 at the age of 34.
For a few years I had been exhausted, bloated, constipated on and off, stomach pains and every now and then noticed blood in stools but never took things too seriously.
In the beginning symptoms would come and go and were never consistent so I always brushed them off. I ate well, exercised regularly, was a busy mum of two and never for one minute thought I was showing symptoms for bowel cancer. I saw my GP who agreed it seemed I was constipated but sent me for a colonoscopy just to be sure.
I remember going in thinking it was just a routine check and I’d come out the other side perfectly fine and be told I had a sensitive tummy. When I came through recovery I remember waiting for what felt like ages (I was starving after not being able to eat the whole day prior!) and the doctor came and told me “I’m afraid if looks like you have bowel cancer”.
I can still hear those words. It felt like in that moment my world stopped. I don’t know why but I was waiting for him to tell me he was joking. 34 year olds don't get bowel cancer! He went on to tell me my cancer had almost completely blocked my bowel to the point they could not even get the colonoscopy camera through.
The next 4 days were a whirlwind. I met a surgeon only 16 hours before I was operated on, he removed a portion of my large bowel, I spent 6 days in hospital and am now 20 weeks into chemotherapy with four weeks left.
It still hard to believe it happened, everything was so fast. In hindsight I should have realised something wasn’t quite right. I had already been through an ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment at the age of 24 so know first hand how important it is to pay attention to changes in your body and to have things checked out.
I am ok and will be ok, I’m extremely lucky things were caught when they were. In the future no matter how uncomfortable or embarrassed I feel about changes in my body I will pay attention to warning signs and will get them checked out. I hope my story can help others do the same.