I first started having symptoms in December 2018 - I had some blood in my bowel movements and stomach cramping while going to the toilet. At first, I thought it was food poisoning, but it continued to get worse. By mid-January 2019 there was a lot more blood, and cramping occurred more often, so I decided to get it checked out by my GP.
I initially had a faecal test which didn’t detect anything, and then a CT Scan showed some swelling in my sigmoid colon and was diagnosed as having Colitis (swelling of the bowel). It apparently presents similar to a tumour on a CT Scan, but a tumour was ruled out given my age (35).
I had a colonoscopy in early February to confirm how serious the Colitis was, but on awakening from the procedure, my Gastroenterologist told me that he had found a tumour in my sigmoid colon, and that I didn’t have Colitis.
I met with my surgeon the following week and had surgery to remove the tumour the week after that on the 19th February. The tumour was about 3cm and 20cm of my bowel was removed, along with 18 lymph nodes in the area. Pathology results showed that 1 of the 18 lymph nodes contained cancer cells - I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.
I started chemo (FOLFOX6) in early April and am about to start my 4th round of treatment today. My treatments are fortnightly, and I will need 12 treatments altogether.
We had planned to go the US at Easter for a couple weeks but were afraid we might have to cancel it. However, after talking to my oncologist, I was able to arrange my first and second chemo treatments around the trip. My first treatment started a week and a half before we left so, I was free of the side effects by the time we left. We were so glad that we were able to go, and that treatment could work around it, as we had been looking forward to the holiday since last year. We had a fantastic holiday spending time with family over there and even spent a whole day at Disneyland! The family photos in this post were taken on that trip ?
The first week of my treatments have been pretty tough, particularly days 3 and 4. I have experienced a range of side effects including nausea, fatigue, non-stop hiccupping, and fingers and throat being extremely sensitive to the cold. The second week has been a lot better with energy levels increasing through the week. I’ve managed to play basketball each of my last 2 treatments during the second week which I’ve been extremely happy about.
I am hooked up on chemo drugs for two days and have been aiming to work 8 out of 10 days a fortnight. I find the more active I am, the better I feel, so I actually prefer being at work than sitting around at home. My work has been very supportive and have allowed me flexibility when I need it.
It has been a rollercoaster few months and I am still on the ride, but I am taking each day as it comes and remain confident and positive that I will be cured. I am extremely grateful for the love and support from family and friends, particularly my wife Susie who has been my rock throughout, and my daughter Charlotte who brings me so much joy every day.