My names Brayden, I was 27, married and had an 18-month-old when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 bowel cancer in 2020.
I started experiencing abdominal pains and just sort of brushed it off as maybe not eating the best. I ended up seeking medical advice when the pains continued, the GP first said that it could just be a bug and prescribed me with antibiotics. After a couple more weeks of the pain still persisting, I went back, where he then sent me for blood tests and a stool sample. These all can back clear, except I had extremely low iron which I then got booked in for an infusion.
A couple months went by with the pains on and off, I then started getting blood in my stool and knew that something wasn’t right so I went back to the GP and asked what else we can do. He sent me for a colonoscopy and endoscopy.
My wife and I will never forget when I came out of the colonoscopy and heard the words ‘We’ve found cancer’. Biggest shock of our lives. After the initial shock my first thought was ‘What now? How do I beat it?’
It all moved fairly quick after that. I went for multiple scans and the next day met with my surgeon. He mentioned we were lucky we caught it when we did, as the cancer had nearly protruded my bowel. I had an iron infusion straight away, and went for surgery two-weeks after the infusion to remove 300mm of my bowel.
After recovering from my surgery I then went under three months of chemotherapy. Because of my young age my oncologist recommended an intense dosage. I went in on a 21-day cycle for 5 hours on the drip and also chemo tablets. The side effects were harsh, but knew I had to endure them for my family, and as hard it was on me, it would have been just as hard on them to witness what I had to go through. We always stayed positive and I couldn’t have gotten through this without them.
I am now two and a half years into being given the all clear and go in for regular check-ups which included CT scans, blood tests and colonoscopy.
As much of a terrible and frightening experience it was for me and my family, it made me realise how important it is to enjoy life, and to get yourself checked regularly.
I am now back to living a normal life, with my beautiful wife and two beautiful boys. I wanted to share my story for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month as a positive one and that if you listen to your body and find it early, it is treatable.
My one piece of advice would be to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, then get yourself checked.