I turned 44 on January 10th, 2003. I was very fit at that time, going to the gym most days, and I'd just walked 100km on the Bibbulmun Track.
On Australia Day I woke up with a stomach-ache, which quickly worsened and became unbearable. It turned out that I had a Dukes C carcinoma that had burst the wall of my bowel, and I had developed peritonitis. I had emergency surgery that night and when I woke up, I had been fitted with an Ileostomy bag.
After six months of chemo a test revealed that another large tumour had grown in my abdominal cavity. So, I had further surgery and a different chemo regime, this time for four months.
Towards the end of 2004 I had my third instance of bowel cancer. This time it was on my ovary and uterus, and there were no further regular chemotherapy treatments available. I sought out and underwent intraperitoneal chemotherapy which wasn't easy to go through.
At that point I'd had three bouts of bowel cancer in around 18 months, whilst undergoing aggressive treatment... I didn't think I'd live to be 50 years old. But I had an aim of seeing my two teenage boys turn 21. That was my goal.
Given the progression of my disease, my prognosis was poor. My oncologist told me to go home and enjoy my life. I was told I could probably expect a recurrence in less than six months, and there wouldn't be anything anyone could do. I thought I was on borrowed time.
So, I left my secure well-paid job and went to Bali, Indonesia. I wanted to be somewhere warm where I didn't have to do the dishes every night!
Since then I have had two more recurrences, resulting in surgical removal of the tumours. The last time it had moved to my left lung and I had a lower lobe lobectomy. That was in 2009 and I am now 10 years free of a recurrence.
I started trail running (well... fast walking) over two years ago and I love it. Because I don't have two lungs, I'm slow uphill, but I can still finish within cut off times. In the last month I competed successfully in two very difficult trail runs of over 25 km each.
As I write this, I just turned 61 last week. Both of my boys are adults and I have five beautiful grandchildren.
Bowel cancer is not a sexy disease and poo is difficult to talk about, but it's imperative that you tell your GP if you see any bowel changes. Most important is to get tested if you have any symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with bowel cancer, always remember that there is hope. Statistics and a prognosis can be helpful, but individuals often defy statistics.
I know I'm a medical miracle and I have learnt to never take anything for granted. I'm so blessed to be able to still walk in nature and enjoy life.
Make sure that you treasure all of the joys in your life because we never know what is just around the corner.