"I met a surgeon within the next day or so and we settled on a plan that resulted in 85% of my large intestine being removed. Initially I had key hole surgery and was expected to go home in around 10 days but unfortunately I faced a number of complications."
"This was around the time that I associate with the emotional rock bottom. I was in complete despair trying to understand how so many things could be going against me and my chances of beating cancer."
Bowel cancer claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year) - but it's one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early.
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, a Bowel Cancer Australia initiative to raise awareness of Australia's second deadliest cancer and raise funds for the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.
Diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer at the age of 28, Peter now considers himself one of the lucky ones.
As we countdown to Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2019, Peter shares his personal story to help raise much-needed awareness and encourage people all around the country to help beat bowel cancer this June.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: Peter's Bowel Cancer Story
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2015 about one month after my 28th birthday. My gastroenterologist found the tumour by accident whilst I was having a colonoscopy to investigate ulcerative colitis – the cancer was stage 3.
I met a surgeon within the next day or so and we settled on a plan that resulted in 85% of my large intestine being removed. Initially I had key hole surgery and was expected to go home in around 10 days but unfortunately I faced a number of complications.
The final complication was a blood clot in my right arm, at the time it just felt like nothing could go to plan. I finally went home on day 21 or 22.
Over the next week or so we met with my oncologist to develop my treatment plan. I was placed on two chemotherapy drugs, 8 rounds of Oxaliplatin and 12 rounds of Fluorouracil (5-FU). Unfortunately, I had a nasty reaction about 48 hrs into my first round of treatment. I was taken to emergency in an ambulance.
This was around the time that I associate with the emotional rock bottom. I was in complete despair trying to understand how so many things could be going against me and my chances of beating cancer. I cried a lot. Every time I woke up from sleep I realised that it wasn’t just a bad dream, my fiancé Sarah and I were living through hell.
Things finally became uneventful, chemotherapy was every 14 days and I reacted pretty poorly to it with bad nausea and reflux. I spend the first 5 days after each treatment in bed before regaining strength over days 6 to 9. Days 10 to 13 would be nice; I would begin to feel good again before heading into hospital for another cycle.
Chemotherapy finally ended. It was such a relief, about 6 weeks later I had surgery to reverse my ileostomy and then 2 weeks after that I rolled back into work and pretty quickly it felt like some normality was returning to my life.
Bowel cancer is a horrendous disease and my experience was beyond $#*!, however Sarah and I have since had our magical wedding (our date got pushed because of the treatment, that was horrible) and normality truly has returned.
So many people, especially those “too young to get bowel cancer” have heartbreakingly different ends to their fights and I consider myself one of the luckiest guys alive.
Red Apple Day and Bowel Cancer Awareness Month 2019
1 in 13 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime. 15,604 Australians will be diagnosed with the disease this year.
With Bowel Cancer Awareness Month launching on 1st June, now is the perfect time to start planning how you can help raise much needed awareness and funds to help beat bowel cancer.
A highlight of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is Red Apple Day (Wednesday, 19 June 2019), when Australians are encouraged to support the vital work of Bowel Cancer Australia through the purchase of a Bowel Cancer Awareness Ribbon and apple themed fundraising activities.
Here's seven simple ways you can get involved:
1. Order free awareness posters and flyers to distribute at your workplace, community centre, social or sporting group
2. Register to sell Bowel Cancer Awareness Ribbons to family, friends and local community members.
3. Host a Bowel Cancer Awareness Month or Red Apple Day fundraiser or awareness activity.
4. Become a #Never2Young Champion this Never Too Young Awareness Week (3-9 June)
6. Find out about bowel cancer prevention, risks and symptoms and share what you learn with others.
7. Donate today to help save lives and to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with bowel cancer. Every donation over $2 is fully tax-deductible.
For more information and to get involved this June click here.
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Red Apple Day are initiatives of Bowel Cancer Australia.