I was 49 when diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer.
I was an average, healthy person, but I began having some acute stomach cramps. The first two were so severe I went to emergency, both times I was turned away with a ‘just a virus’ diagnosis.
After enduring another episode of cramping I went to my GP, who firstly tested my ovaries. When that test was clear she sent me for a CT scan, which showed thickening of the bowel.
My GP then sent me for a colonoscopy right away, and I was told straight after the procedure that I had a 5cm tumour.
I was lucky enough to see a surgeon with three days and have 30cm of my bowel removed that week.
The operation was major, but I recovered well, following a week in hospital. Again, I was lucky, and did not need a colonoscopy bag.
The 30 lymph nodes they removed were all clear, but I was recommended six months of chemotherapy. No radiation was needed.
The main side effects for me were extreme fatigue, so I did not work at all during treatment, and extreme nausea. I participated in the Cannabis trail thanks to my oncologist who suggested it. This was a wonder drug that alleviated the nausea immediately.
My family and friends were extremely supportive, and I allowed me to rest and concentrate on nothing but myself. The chemo nurses were Angels. I also discovered mindfulness and meditation really helped.
I am now two years cancer free and am more active and healthier than I was before. I am still closely monitored with follow up tests., but I have returned to work as a teacher and I make time for my new beachcombing and photography hobbies.
I can honestly say that my experience has had only positive impacts. My relationship with my husband and close friends is richer and deeper as a result, this I appreciate and treasure
My advice to those living with or beyond bowel cancer would be let your loved ones love and care for you. Use all the wonderful resources and medical team you are provided with, and drink lots of water.
Hopefully your best days are yet to come.
Maureen (now 52.)