‘You have terminal cancer’. Those four words turned my world upside down two years ago.
Five years ago, at 47, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer. It’s in my family.
My Nan died from it when she was 53. Back then, I thought she was a little old lady. I missed her terribly, but I thought ‘well, she is old and that’s what happens to old people’.
At 52, I now realise that’s not old enough! I'm a Mum to two beautiful girls, a partner, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’ve got stuff to do!
I was extremely tired all the time, bloated and my bowel wasn't working properly. I was going to every kind of doctor I could find to try to figure out what was wrong with me.
A colonoscopy found Stage 3 bowel cancer. It had been three years since my last colonoscopy and 'at home' bowel cancer test and the cancer had gone from zero to Stage 3 in that short time.
I was immediately sent for rounds of chemotherapy and radiation over five weeks, before surgery to remove 40cm of the lower bowel. I was fitted with a colostomy bag and was lucky enough to have that reversed after six months. More chemo followed in the hope of 'mopping up' any rogue cells.
I went to hell and back ‘dealing’ with that Stage 3 situation and after the train ride from hell, I spent three glorious months celebrating being cancer free. I had a big 50th birthday party, surrounded by all the people I love most in the world.
I had my next 50 years all mapped out and was looking forward to so many new adventures…but it came back and ruined all my plans.
So, the last two years have been dedicated to trying to beat this monster again. Cancer is not only a physical disease but a mental battle as well. I have monthly intravenous treatment and chemotherapy two weeks out of every four, which I'm told I'll be on forever. It makes me tired and gives me brain fog.
By nature, I’m a positive person. I love a ‘project’, especially a creative one and I’m always dreaming up new things to throw myself into. So besides managing the physical and mental aspects of my health (chemo brain is a real thing!) I have been working on a new project inspired by my illness. It's called 'You Have My Word'. I'm making it easy to share messages of love from family and friends.
I believe everyone should know how much they are loved - especially those with a terminal diagnosis and between treatment and trying to look after myself well, I've created a special gift of love. I guess that's the silver lining here!
I am not a drinker and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, yet here I am with cancer.
There is nothing good about this monster, so when you receive that bowel cancer test in the mail, please DO IT!