Well where do I start?
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer at the ripe old age of 35. I was only diagnosed by accident.
I had not been feeling well on and off for about a fortnight. I had pain in my right rib cage and felt really nauseous. I visited my GP who kept telling me I had a viral infection, which he believed had caused my liver to become inflamed. He told me to come back in a fortnight. I continued to deteriorate so went back after about a week. My doctor stuck by his story, but sent me for an ultrasound just in case.
I knew immediately that the person doing the ultrasound was concerned. He told me to head directly back to my GP for the results. They had found something on my liver. I was then rushed off for a CT scan on the same day, where they discovered a big mass in my sigmoid colon. All of this happened in a day, and the whole time I was by myself.
I can’t really remember a whole lot after that. All I could remember was thinking that my two and four-year-old daughters would be left without a mum.
It was Christmas time so it took almost a month to be able to get in to have a colonoscopy and have things 100% confirmed. This was the hardest time of my life. Not having seen an oncologist, not having a plan of treatment, not knowing anything.
I could hardly get out of bed I was so sick from the blockage in my bowel. I was so scared.
Once I finally got the colonoscopy, PET scan and saw the oncologist, it was determined that I had a very large Mass in my colon. My liver had three very large masses that consumed over 50% of my liver, and there was a suspicious lymph node in my chest.
It was decided that I wasn’t eligible for surgery so chemo would be my first option. I began to have regular panic attacks. How would I look after my young children? How would Chemo make me feel? How would I be strong enough to do this?
I was losing weight and was constantly sick as my bowel was 75% blocked. I still can’t fathom how sick I got so quickly.
In hindsight I had been experiencing some rectal bleeding since the birth of my second daughter, but I also had haemorrhoids removed so put it down to that.
I was also tired a lot, but who isn’t with two very young children. I wish I had paid more attention to my body before I had gotten to this point. How could I possibly be Stage 4? How could this even all be true? I was extremely fit and healthy. I would do CrossFit three times a week. Surely there was some mistake?
The day before I was due to start Chemotherapy my bowel ruptured. I was rushed to hospital where I underwent surgery to fix that, and I got a stoma bag.
They removed the mass in my colon and 45 lymph nodes, two of which later tested positive to disease. Recovery was hard, but it was a blessing in disguise. Once I had recovered, I was no longer contending with a blocked bowel, so my appetite returned and so did my strength. I started Chemo about five weeks after surgery.
Chemotherapy has actually been kinder to me than I anticipated. I am rarely sick and I am able to function the majority of the time.
So far, I have had a great response to Chemo too. My liver lesions have shrunk dramatically, and I am hoping to be eligible for a liver resection somewhere in the future. We just need to make sure that the disease isn’t going to show up anywhere else in my body first.
Until then, I will continue to enjoy my beautiful family and try to make the most out of every day.
Some days are harder than others, but I choose to look at the glass as half full. What if we never caught it? What if amazing treatments weren’t available to me?
I’m going to fight this with everything that I have.