At first I suspected I must be going through early menopause. I was unbelievably tired, the type of tired where I had to take my arms down from the steering wheel at red lights to rest them.
I went to the GP for a check-up in August 2021, I knew something was wrong. My bloods came back with low haemogloblin levels, but my iron levels were fine. I started taking iron tablets, and I felt better. Haemoglobin went up, all was well.
Until February 2022 when I started having debilitating tailbone pain. I got an x-ray, convincing myself I had a tumour in my tailbone. There was nothing there. By April my bowel habits changed, I assumed it was just related to the pain I was in with my tailbone. But in early May, there was a tiny speck of blood. I would have missed it had I not been paying close attention.
I went in for a colonoscopy and was immediately told upon waking up it was cancer. A tumour in my rectum. It's probably been there for 10 years. There were also six polyps removed. No family history. I immediately went down for a CT scan. Thankfully there were no signs it had spread. I saw a colorectal surgeon within two days and he was confident it was Stage 2 or 3, but we wouldn't know for sure until he got it. Within the week I was on the operating table.
The surgery was successful and we got clear margins, however the little bugger had spread to two lymph nodes, I was stage 3A. This meant six months of mop up chemo ahead. I was floored, I was terrified of not see in my children grow up. Terrified of living my life having to constantly screen for cancer, waiting for it to come back.
I am almost half way through my chemo now, and managing quite well. I have about 4-5 rough days in the fortnight but the rest are pretty normal. I fear that first scan after chemo, but I've done everything I can to give myself the best chance.
I am so glad I listened to my body and checked before I flushed. Always look before you flush. The symptoms aren’t always obvious.
My one piece of advice, look before you flush.