In November 2019 I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer, requiring urgent surgery and 6 months of chemotherapy. It was a surreal and challenging 8 months. I was 34 years old, and it came as a bit of a shock to myself and my daughter, who had always seen me as young and somewhat invincible. I was otherwise healthy, and I had few symptoms.
In October 2019, after noticing a small blood clot in the toilet I immediately booked an appointment with my GP. He felt it best to do a screening test, which detected blood, and sent me for an immediate colonoscopy. Part of the reason I was able to get in for the procedure quickly was a result of my private health insurance. I believe that if I had been placed on a waiting list for a colonoscopy through the public system, that I wouldn’t be here today. I am incredibly grateful for my GPs prompt action.
After waking from the procedure, the doctor advised what he had found and sent me for a CT, X-ray and to see a surgeon. Less than 2 weeks later I had a sub-total colectomy to remove 50cm of my bowl, including the tumour and 2 infiltrated lymph nodes.
It has now been 3 years and I am happy to say there are no signs of recurrence or spread.
I was fortunate to have a huge support network of people, organisations and institutions, including my family, friends, workplace and the amazing healthcare professionals around Canberra. They made my path to recovery much easier than it could otherwise have been.
All these amazing people, organisations, and the people and institutions that have contributed to the incremental improvement in medicine and treatment. Without the compassion, support and skill of all these lovely humans, I wouldn't be here.
However, not everyone has access to this level of support, and without organisations like Bowel Cancer Australia they may miss out on support, treatments and care they need to recover.