It all began last year with all the tell-tale signs. Sore stomach, bloating, IBS symptoms, then progressed to bleeding and mucus in my stools.
I went to three different GP’s and it was dismissed by all of them as “haemorrhoids” or a “fissure” or “piles etc.”
Can’t be cancer, your too young I heard a lot. Don’t google your symptoms they said it all lead to cancer! Ha what a joke.
I knew inside I wasn’t well, so off I went for the 4th visit to the doctors. I demanded a colonoscopy and a stool sample screening test. The stool sample came back negative.
I took a few weeks to finally get in to see the gastroenterologist and after a brief chat he knew too something wasn’t right, so he squeezed me in for a colonoscopy as soon as he could the following week.
When I woke from my slumber after the colonoscopy, in very direct terms I was told I had rectal cancer. Wow doesn’t it hit you right in the face. So scary. I have a young family and a wonderful wife. Not knowing if I was going live or die, all these horrible thoughts go through your mind. My kids Harry (6) and Pearl (3) and wife Kim were so great helping me deal with this.
Two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day I’m in hospital for an ultra-low anterior resection. Big 10hr operation and lost a fair wack of bowel and my rectum. Lying in bed on my birthday a few days later, on the 17th February waiting to hear if it was terminal or had spread was agonising. I thought I was pretty tough, until I found myself sitting and crying in hospital alone waiting for whatever news was coming. Possible unknown risks included all functions in the manhood area, urinating and prostate issues. Thankfully all that settled down and worked after a long time!
Having a stoma was horrible for those few long months and I never liked it so when the day came to get it reversed it was awesome! I have not been right ever since, both physically and mentally, and some days are harder than others. 12-15 Gastro stop tablets a day just to not soil myself is both humiliating and demeaning, and not good at all for one’s self esteem.
Because of this and no fault of my own, I had to stop work. It has cost us our business, and everything associated with it. I had close my electrical company which I had built from the ground up, lay off all my staff and sell the house, my warehouse/office and cars. This has also been so very difficult because believe it or not, there a few clients (that I thought were mates) took advantage of the situation and decided not to pay their outstanding invoices. These things compound the stress and anxiety and anger I have already!
I couldn’t have done this without the wonderful support of my wife Kim who has gone above and beyond to support, help, nurture and love me through this and I love her and can’t thank her enough. Coming home from hospital and painful check-ups/pelvic floor physio’s OR as I call them my “digital violations appointments” was made so much easier knowing my wife and kids were there ready for me with big smiles and a cuddle. This event has crushed my hopes and dreams. However, most importantly, it has taught me how much I love and appreciate my beautiful wife and family and how important the things are that you take for granted AND what is actually important versus what you think is important. The wonderful help and support I got from family and friends as well was amazing. Be kind to people because you just don't know what they are going through.
A big shout out to the living legend and most of all to the best surgeon Dr Chris Gillespie from Brisbane Colorectal at the Mater Private. Thank you for your professional approach and wonderful surgery skills to remove the tumour! The nurses on Ward 10 North at the Mater Private were so wonderful and caring and I thank them so much as well. Having been there for three surgeries this year you get to know them, and I really like them!
With all of this going on, it is why I have been active in anything I can to raise awareness for bowel cancer. Selling ribbons, fundraising and cake sales with my wonderful Stoma Nurses Louise and Eric at the Mater Private, and now getting involved in Decembeard.
Go and get a check-up please ASAP! Here's to new dreams and beginnings and opportunities!