I was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer at 44 years old in late 2015.
To be honest, getting sick was definitely not on my radar.
I was young, fit and relatively healthy. I had no obvious signs or symptoms until the day I woke up with intense abdominal pain.
I saw my GP that day, was sent off for some tests and within a few days was told, “it is likely you have ovarian cancer”.
I still remember the look in my GPs eyes when she told me. It made sense, as my mum had breast cancer at a young age.
I was sent off to see a Gynaecological Oncologist who organised loads more tests (CT, multiple tumour markers etc), but nothing out of the ordinary was found.
The medical team were fairly confident I had borderline tumours of my ovaries (which were both very large tumours) and with their removal, that would be it for me. Yippee!!
Unfortunately, I woke after that surgery to be told that the tumours were in fact secondary tumours, with the primary unknown.
They were suspicious of bowel cancer as my iron stores were very low. After an intense few days of waiting and a PET scan, the primary was located in the caecum. From the PET they could also see multiple positive lymph nodes.
Since then I have had two further surgeries, 12 rounds of chemo, five weeks of radiation and concurrent continuous chemo infusions for 7 weeks.
I am heading towards my four-year anniversary since diagnosis and am still on maintenance chemo (oral), which I see as a small price to pay.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing fellow warriors and some phenomenal health professionals, including my brilliant Oncologist.
I learnt very quickly the importance of community…having incredible support from family and friends.
My advice is this…. with a positive attitude, you’ve already won half the battle. Make sure you set yourself some goals. Be kind to yourself…it’s not an easy path ahead. And try as best you can make the most of every moment.
Sadly, the incidence of young people being diagnosed is on the rise, but lucky for us, new treatments are being developed at a rapid rate and we are surviving much longer.