When the phone line becomes a lifeline.
At 37 years old, I had a great job, a beautiful wife and two healthy young children.
You could say I was living the Australian dream.
I was healthy and fit, and honestly thought bowel cancer was something that only affected people in their later years.
So you can imagine my shock when I was diagnosed with Stage III bowel cancer.
A few days after I was diagnosed and went into surgery, I received the first of many calls from a Bowel Cancer Australia Bowel Care Nurse who has since become a great friend.
The help that I was given over the phone was instrumental in my healing process.
Sometimes our conversations lasted just a few minutes, but there were times when she stayed on the line with me for up to an hour, offering support and answers to questions no one else seemed to know.
I battled through surgery and six months of chemotherapy, and nearly two years later I am very happy to say that I am alive and healthy and trying to enjoy every single day of life, although the journey hasn’t always been easy.
Following recovery, I felt depressed and found it difficult to carry on initially.
The Bowel Cancer Australia Nurse put me in touch with another male survivor via the charity’s Peer-to-Peer Support Network who was experiencing similar challenges to mine as a result of our young age.
Chris and I have both tackled bowel cancer in our own ways and dealt with it individually, but it was great having him to talk through my challenges with, as most of the other patients I encountered were at least 20 years older than me.
Until I met Chris, it was quite a lonely journey. My family was always there for me, and I had the support of the nurse at Bowel Cancer Australia, but having someone to talk to who was living the same experience, battling this horrific disease, made a huge difference for me.
I gave up my secure job and decided to pursue a long standing ambition. I now have my own food truck, out of which I serve pirate-themed meals at functions, markets, and special events, sharing my bounty with Bowel Cancer Australia.
I volunteer to speak with other patients my age, and we share our journeys, discuss the similar challenges we have faced medically, physically and psychologically. It’s frightening the amount of young people I have met on my journey who are challenged with the same fate as mine.
I also have my own website and blog which I use to raise money for Bowel Cancer Australia in various ways to give thanks to all the medical staff, especially the Bowel Cancer Australia nurse I spoke with regularly during my personal battle towards recovery.
It remains a day-to-day approach, but as time goes on and with my attention focused on my new venture I am coping more easily than before.
Life today is about trying to balance work and children, along with my diagnosis and treatments.
Giving back, supporting others who might be going through what I have and raising funds for Bowel Cancer Australia helps me to stay positive when I start to get down about things.
Bowel cancer is certainly a cause that doesn’t get too much awareness.