In my gut, I knew something was wrong

Bowel Cancer Australia

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Nathan met Jodie twenty years ago when they were both age eleven and in the sixth grade.

Nathan says it was love at first sight and still remembers giving Jodie her first kiss, “a peck on the lips,” when they were at the school disco.

Despite their differences (Nathan was the bad boy who sat outside with the smokers and Jodie was a gymnast who hung outside science class), Nathan says he managed to charm Jodie into becoming his girlfriend when they were in Year 11.

The pair broke up soon after graduating high school, but they remained the best of friends.

“I could write a million pages on the experiences we have had together,” Nathan said.

Up until last year, Jodie had always been involved in sports; gymnastics when she was younger, acrobatics until a few years ago, and then more recently Muay Thai.

Jodie trained every day in the lead up to it her first Muay Thai competition in October 2016.

“I took a break from training for a few months afterward, which is when I started having some digestive issues,” Jodie said.

“In December 2016, my GP sent a referral for me to have a colonoscopy in the public hospital after finding occult blood in my stool test,” said Jodie.

“She also gave me a private referral letter in case I could get the money to go ASAP, but I put the private referral in a drawer at home and decided to wait to go through the public system,” Jodie said.

Nathan remembers Jodie complaining of bowel pain and stomach upset after meals.

“It got to the stage that when I went to visit Jodie, I would get angry because I found it so frustrating to see her in that state,” said Nathan.

“I told her not to wait any longer,” Nathan said, urging her to visit a local endoscopy clinic where he had gone himself.

Both Nathan and his father were diagnosed with bowel cancer prior to Jodie’s symptoms, so he knew she needed to take action.

“I was fortunate to have it surgically removed and require no further treatment at this stage except for annual colonoscopies,” said Nathan, but his father was not so lucky.

“Seeing him fade from a strong man to a frail sick person still grasping for hope till the very end was an emotional experience I still deal with every day,” Nathan said.

“After waiting four months, my family and I decided I had waited long enough and so I went to have the colonoscopy done privately,” said Jodie.

The doctor performing the procedure told me afterward that there was a blockage and he was only able to see one-third on my bowel.

Biopsies had to be done and Jodie was told she would hear from the specialist the following week.

“My parents and I went to the appointment at the colonoscopy clinic to get my results,” said Jodie.

“I didn't stop crying for a few hours,” Jodie said.

“When she told me she had a heap of polyps and a large one that was obstructing her bowel, I felt sick instantly,” Nathan said.

Jodie was admitted to hospital for her first ever operation.

The tumour and two-thirds of her bowel were removed.

The week after her surgery, Jodie’s surgeon called with her pathology results.

“I felt my whole world go dark,” Jodie said.

“The only thought in my head was, ‘Why didn't they just let me die on the operating table and save all the trouble?’”

“The tumour was not contained; its bad cells had spread to other areas,” said Jodie.

“Of the 40 or so lymph nodes removed, 8 of them showed some bad cells.”

“The fluid around my organs was also tested and showed more malignant cells,” Jodie said.

“I will have to undergo further treatment.”

“I am just 30 years old.”

This was supposed to be the year Jodie kick started her business.

“That is just on hold for now.”

“Instead, I’m just trying to do normal things like go out to dinner, movies, go shopping,” said Jodie.

“I don't really feel like myself right now, so I’m not doing anything really worth talking about.”

“Mostly, I’m chasing up appointments and doing some research, and making crafty creative things when I feel inspired to do so, but I get fatigued and tire out really easily,” Jodie said.

“I wish I would have gone for the colonoscopy earlier instead of waiting months for the public system to fit me in before going private anyway,” said Jodie.

“In my gut, I knew something was wrong early in 2017, but of course it’s easier to put your head in the sand than to face something so scary head on,” Jodie said.

“Putting your head in the sand doesn't make anything go away.”

“Would it have made a difference if I had the colonoscopy 4 months ago?”

“I don't know.”

“I live at home with my parents, and my brother lives not far away, so I always have a lot of support around me at home.

“My partner Matt, has been amazing and understanding and pushes me just enough to keep me involved in daily activities and life in general,” said Jodie.

In the meantime, Nathan is “trying to be that normal friend, and just talk about life as we used to.”

He’s also organising a fundraiser to raise money to help Jodie manage medical costs and to support bowel cancer research.

“I have been touched by the heartbreak and devastating aftermath caused by bowel cancer,” said Nathan.

“I know firsthand how the disease impacts finances, emotions and family members.”

“As I continue to organise the fundraiser, I hear of so many others who have suffered too,” Nathan said.

“I am hoping this will not only help Jodie and bowel cancer research but that the event will also help to raise awareness in our community about bowel cancer awareness and encourage people not to wait until it’s too late if they are experiencing symptoms.”

“Even if I get one person who attends the event to start thinking about their symptoms and go to seek medical attention, which could just save their life, I will have fully achieved what I have set out to do,” said Nathan.

To find out more about the event visit their Facebook Fundraising page.

To learn more about bowel cancer or bowel cancer symptoms visit our web page.

If you would like to speak with a Bowel Care Nurse call the Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline 1800 555 494 Monday – Friday between 10 am – 3 pm EST or send an email and your inquiry will be responded to within 48 hours.

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