Prompted to be conscious of changes in my body by an incredible woman and friend who was, at the time, in the later stages of a terminal bowel cancer diagnosis, I sought the attention of my GP after spotting some blood when visiting the bathroom.
My thorough GP recognised my symptoms and put them down to internal haemorrhoids courtesy of labour but referred me to a specialist to be certain. This specialist examined me and came to the same conclusion, pencilling me in for routine surgery to attend to the haemorrhoids.
The surgery was a success and both the surgeon and I happily and confidently parted ways.
Two days later, after having just finished a run, a took a call from my surgeon who disclosed that they had found cancer in polyps removed during the procedure and that I should return for more testing immediately.
My world was turned upside down with that phone call and a fear I had never known took over as I underwent further tests to confirm whether the cancer had spread.
Fortunately, it had not, and preventatively, I was booked for a resection, where they removed half of my bowel. I had complications after the surgery and underwent a second surgery days later.
I think back to that time with a lot of anxiety as it was without doubt the most challenging and traumatic experience of my life. Adhesions from the resection later caused a great deal of pain and further hospital visits during which my stomach was pumped.
Though traumatic at the time, not a day goes by when I don't think about how infinitely lucky I am to be able to recount my story. I am so very aware of those who face much, much greater challenges than these on a daily basis.
I know how very fortunate I am to have had an inspirational friend to prompt my initial enquiry and to have then discovered my cancer in its early stages (by chance, through unrelated symptoms).
Nothing makes you appreciate life in all its fullness more than facing your own mortality. I am now back to (a more grateful) normal, exercising most days and relishing the life I am privileged to lead.