I was 33 years old and learnt very quickly that in the blink of an eye your life can change. Your goals, dreams, and priorities are all forced to take different turns.
It all started late March 2017...
I went from being fit and healthy, to noticing a change in my bowel habits.
I was experiencing excruciating pain on and off the toilet, I was going to the toilet 15+ times a day. I was constantly doubling over in pain, I couldn’t sit or lay still for long periods of time. I also lost 12kg.
During this time, I visited my GP five times and Emergency once. I was sent for blood tests to rule out Diabetes & Coeliac Disease.
My GP went on to tell me I most likely have IBS or an elongated colon.
I asked my GP to send me for X-Rays/CT/Ultrasound because I was concerned after a friend was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and had similar symptoms, my GP refused to refer me and told me “it will cost the system”!
Upon the last visit to my GP I was at the lowest point in my life, I couldn’t comprehend how I would live with IBS, but at the same time I didn’t believe that was the cause of this unbearable pain. That’s when I demanded my GP refer me for a colonoscopy and I paid to have it done sooner rather than later.
On the 2nd June 2017 I went for my colonoscopy. They immediately found the mass blocking the sigmoid colon. I was then sent for a CT and the next I knew it I was meeting with a surgeon and admitted for surgery the 16th June 2017.
Almost a month after the surgery on the 4th July I received my results back, I had a Stage-II bowel cancer. It had grown through the bowel wall but luckily had not spread to the lymph nodes.
I was informed that because of my age it was advised that I go on and do chemotherapy. I chose not to after my oncologist approached me about taking part in a research study called Circulating Tumour DNA. I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic study even if I was taking a risk of not having chemo.
I now go for tests/check -ups every three months and had my last tests (including colonoscopy) in December and still chemo/cancer free!
One major frustration for me throughout this crazy journey was not knowing my family history due to being adopted. It was the first question anyone would ask me “do you have any family history of this”.
It has given me the drive to find my family and with the support of family, friends and my oncologist I’ve started searching and also been referred for Genetic Testing.
I’ve learnt that if you are not comfortable with your GP’s diagnosis get a second, third or fourth opinion! You are the only one who really knows your body. If I had taken the word of my GP I would not be here today!