Up until being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in 2015 I was in good health, generally ate well and there was no cancer history in my family.
I was reasonably fit and exercised regularly by walking our dog, playing golf weekly and the occasional bike ride. I am married with 5 daughters aged 16 – 25 (in 2015). I had a senior job in Government that did have high stress levels.
At the age of 48 I started experiencing a change of bowel habits and then noticed blood in my stool. I went to the GP who suggested I was close to the age of 50 I should have a colonoscopy. I had the colonoscopy just after my 49th birthday and the birth of our first grandson. I woke from the colonoscopy to be told that I had cancer! This was like being hit by a truck as I never thought that I would have cancer and I knew nothing about bowel cancer as I thought it was an older person disease. I was actually feeling not too bad up until this point and was still at work. With my wife by my side we then had to let my daughters know that their
indestructible dad has cancer.
I was then consumed in the medical system which really I had no involvement in up until then. Surgery followed by the pathology results. Stage 3 bowel cancer as 7 of the 12 lymph nodes had cancer cells and the only information they could tell me was that had a 60% survival rate after 5 years. I didn’t need a stoma although my bowel was playing havock.
About 6 weeks later I started chemotherapy – 6 cycles over every 3 weeks. The chemo was draining and I experienced nausea which I did manage. About a month after finishing chemo I started radiation and chemo tablets that’s lasted for 25 treatments. The radiation wasn’t too bad. I had great family and friends support during my treatment which made a huge difference and I got to develop a great bond with my grandson.
After the treatment my GP put me on gastro-stop and benefibre to try and settle my bowel movements. This actually started to let me effectively manage my bowel and gave me confidence to get back into life and return to work after 10 months leave.
I still have regular check ups including blood tests and an annual CT scan but at this stage I am all clear after 2.5 years since my operation. I do find the tests stressful and I do get anxious waiting for the results although I am improving.
In terms of Decembeard I initially participated in 2016 primarily to raise awareness of bowel cancer and ended up raising some well needed funds. So I am participating again this year putting myself out there telling my story help people be aware of bowel cancer and to get it early as the survival rates are a lot higher, but importantly bowel cancer can happen at any age. Bowel Cancer Australia supported me during my cancer journey so I am more than happy to continue to support them.
Where I am today is almost back to normal, I no longer need gastrostop, I do embrace my life and not worry about the little things.