In January last year my identical twin sister (29 years of age that year) Christina was experiencing pain in her stomach all day. When I arrived home she advised she was still experiencing pain and we made her attend the Hospital thinking perhaps it was her appendix.
They did an ultrasound and couldn’t see anything but fluid, they questioned ‘colitis’ and said perhaps a cyst burst, although there was no other present. They sent her home and advised if pain persists to then come back.
When the pain became worse in February she went to her GP who looked at her ultrasounds, ordered bloods and stools and called rapid access to order a colonoscopy to query if she perhaps has crohns. (never suspecting bowel cancer)
Bloods came back and doctor asked her to go on iron tablets as she was iron deficient, anaemic.
As she awaited her scopes which weren’t booked in until April she was still sick; vomiting nearly every weekend, cramping etc. in a lot of pain, she then ended up in hospital again after vomiting blood 30th March (week before scopes) as she was due back in a week they discharged her with some medication for pain and bloating.
The day of her preparation for her scopes (cleanse day) she started vomiting and the cleanse was not working. She ended up in hospital again in emergency at 2am still vomiting which we later found out was caused due to the blockage from the tumour which was leaving only a small ml for anything to get down.
When she had her scopes the tumour was found and it was said to be cancerous (later testing confirmed) Surgery was then booked in to remove the tumour (and a temporary stoma was given). They then confirmed the Cancer is Stage 4 & has spread to her pelvic area including her ovaries/uterus.
Shes was recommended to have a large surgery In Sydney (Peritoneal HIPEC) in Sydney in September 2019.
In the interim prior to this surgery;
She received chemo tablets & infusion chemotherapy. During Chemotherapy Christina did experience some side effects, largely neuropathy, ‘first bite’ pain experienced with eating and drinking certain food / fluids, feeling the cold with some pain associated & nausea.
As a distraction I decided to join Dry July and raise funds for the Hospital where she was having her Chemotherapy. We managed to raise nearly $10,000 with Dry July then matching my donations and them receiving a further grant. We sold multiple boxes of Bowel Cancer Ribbons as well & plan to hopefully hold a Ball for Bowel Cancer next year.
Christinas HIPEC surgery was ‘successful’ with the doctors believing they have removed all the cancer. Unfortunately they had to remove her reproductive organs during the surgery, but were also able to reverse the Stoma. She has started her chemo tablets again now, awaiting confirmation about fluid on her lungs before going further with infusion chemotherapy.
We are also using this ‘shit’ time in our lives as a chance to bring much needed awareness to bowel cancer in the younger generations. Bowel cancer, stool tests, ‘number twos’ is such a taboo topic in a lot of generations but mainly the younger, and especially males. Statistics show the diagnosed cases of bowel cancer is young people is an the rise and if caught early it is treatable. However, that said, due to the amount of causes that are not caught in time, bowel cancer is the second highest cancer killer in Australia. – so it needs much more awareness.
We really strongly recommend anyone experiencing any stomach issues please go see a doctor, and if you are unhappy with the comments or results you receive, please don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion or get a colonoscopy referral. We also would love if younger generations could ban together and remind their parents and loved ones over the age of 45 to do their stool tests / get a colonoscopy. It could seriously save a life!
Obviously being an identical twin, with siblings we all too now have taken part & had our own tests to ensure none of us are too experiencing cancer growth.
Obviously Christina is not happy about the cards she has been dealt but she has such a great attitude which is helped by our great network of support. Christina is such a tough cookie and is always trying to look on the Brightside & positive side of everything. No one her age should have to think about the rocky road like this ahead at such a young age.
No one wants to hear ‘you have cancer’. Being young, recently married – its hard to think about the possibility of dying, not being able to have kids of your own. – it so much to think of especially at 29 years old. But she is such a trooper and ‘rolling with the punches’ & trying to raise as much awareness as possible.