The 21st of January 2021, the day my life as I knew it turned upside down. The minute the word cancer came out of my doctor’s mouth all I could think was 'this can't be right? I am way too young for this!' Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
My story started in early December 2020, I ended up in emergency after experiencing some horrific lower abdominal pain and severe bleeding. I spent 10 hours in emergency and was sent home with some pain killers and the diagnosis of a burst Ovarian Cyst. Thankfully, I am quite in tune with my body and I wasn't happy with my diagnosis. My GP wasn't either, she immediately suggested I see a specialist to organise a Colonoscopy. She mentioned she thought it was likely I had some kind of inflammatory bowel disease.
I went on with my life as normal for the next few weeks, I celebrated Christmas and New Years with my family and friends with no idea what was going on inside my body. During this time there were no other symptoms and to be honest, I completely forgot about my time in the ED.
In January I met with my specialist who booked me in for a Colonoscopy six days later. Fortunately for me I am quite familiar with the Colonoscopy prep, my mum has had a few over the years and she assured me it was never going to be as bad as I thought it would be. And she was right, apart from being hungry and counting down the minutes until my next meal the Colonoscopy was easy. I wasn't aware at the time, the hard part was about to come.
After receiving the news that they had found cancer, I was given the name of a surgeon who I was to meet the following day. The nurses were incredible, that night was so hard but their care and support for not only me, but my parents, I will always be thankful for. I will never forget one of the nurses putting her arms around me and saying "I want you to remember, you saved your own life tonight. By following up and listening to your body, you have saved your own life."
From there things moved very fast, I had a CT the next morning and I met my surgeon not long after that. Thankfully, my CT did not show cancer anywhere else in my body and we scheduled my surgery for less than two weeks later.
I remember waking up the morning of my surgery thinking I would be a nervous wreck. But I wasn't, I woke up excited. Excited to get this thing out of me and to get on with whatever the next few weeks/months were going to throw at me. I trusted my surgeon completely and I knew I had an amazing support team in my family and friends to support me through recovery.
Surgery went for about five hours (three hours longer than anticipated) and my first night post op is a complete blur. I was on a cocktail of pain killers and I am not sure I actually slept. I went on to spend four nights in hospital, fortunately the COVID rules had relaxed slightly and I could have a few visitors for a few hours a day. I slowly started eating more and more over the next few days (mostly the sneaky treats my sister and parents were delivering me!).
From there I have been lucky, my recovery went very smoothly and apart from getting a little tired my life is slowly getting back to normal. I was given a Stage 2 diagnosis and thankfully no cancer was found in my lymph nodes. I do have a family history of bowel cancer, but the tests completed could not find a genetic link. So, family history or not, this really can happen to anyone at any time.
I am now four weeks post op I will meet with an Oncologist, I have been told the choice to have Chemo is completely up to me (which is good and bad, it is a pretty big choice to have to make!). I have to get all the information and work out what is right for me. There are a few big things I have to consider. I am 29 and single, but I do want kids, so what does treatment look like for me and my life? Will this have an effect on my ability to fall pregnant? At the start of 2021 I had no idea a few months in I would be making these kind of life decisions, but here I am.
It feels strange to say, but I feel lucky. I know this journey could have been a lot different for me if this wasn't found when it was. And having something like this happen changes your whole perspective on life. The thought of getting older was always a scary concept for me, but now it excites me. How lucky am I that I get to keep getting older?! Bring on 30, it is going to be amazing and I really cannot wait.