At the age of 26, I was diagnosed with a stage 2 level cancerous growth that was 4cm in radius. It was found in my large intestine.
The symptoms I had included being very tired, lacking colour and iron deficient, which led to my iron transfusion at the start of the whole ordeal.
I also had pains in the lower section of my stomach; dark stool, no visible blood but dark in colour and lacking shape and consistency; and I felt dizzy when played sport – feeling tight chested and very lightheaded.
It took around 3 hours to remove 35cm of my bowel including the 4cm growth, fatty tissues around my bowel, 36 lymph nodes leaving about a 15cm zipper-like wound down the middle of my belly, plus two key whole wounds to the side and below my large wound.
The first 2 months I was generally just sore, no doubt!
I kept trying to push myself and do exercise, only to be smacked down by the reality of my situation and remember to relax.
I just had to accept and be patient with the whole situation, but I was sort of struggling with the timing of the whole ordeal as it was a month leading into Christmas - including hot summer conditions, everyone at the beach having fun.
The support around me was amazing!
I definitely found out the hard way which foods I could and couldn’t eat. I accidentally ate a Thai meal 2 weeks post op and basically, I thought my world was caving in. Probably not recommended!!!
All 36 lymph nodes came back clear of any cancerous elements which was a huge blessing as I didn't need any chemo.
This will all be checked up at my 6-month check-up in April.
Four months on and I feel pretty good. I’m back surfing, playing golf, slowly getting back to the gym, but still very cautious of over doing things.
I do get tired still, but this may be because of the diet changes and the fact that I eat very little red meat now. I’m just finding alternatives for iron, which took a while to learn about.
Getting cancer in anyone’s life is never a good thing, but I guess it opened my eyes to things that may have been clouded due to being so busy at work, or hungover from the weekend, or just caught up on little things that really at the end of the day don't actually matter.
It's taught me to listen to my body and treat it with the ultimate respect because I now have a blank canvas to work with for hopefully another 60 years. It's all up to me now on how I paint this "Picasso".
There are things I definitely miss, in terms of getting loose with friends, BBQ's, partying etc.
These are all things that I used to love but have seen a more moderate version of myself at these situations nowadays.
I honestly didn't know it took so long to recover. I honestly thought because I was so young, I would take half the time it would be recommended to fully recover. I was wrong...
My advice to others is to be strong, don't let it consume you.
You need to keep on top of things mentally, stay busy, meditate, levitate, yoga, music is great, deep breathing, find hobbies, focus on them, laugh and love and don't get set into the mentality of "Why me?" or "Anyone but me" because this is a card you've been dealt so it's something you need to accept and tackle head on.
Invincible...No one is. It’s a lucky dip, a random assortment of bad luck...
My Grandad did have cancer, but it was stomach related and he was a whole 60 years my senior when he passed and at 86.
I had been struck down with possibly the worst news you can imagine. But these are little things that build you as a person / character e.g. you get over this hurdle in life.
Geez ,you can tackle anything whether that be a business idea you've been mulling over for years, a girl you were too scared to approach, a line of thinking that maybe before the diagnosis you often brushed because your close friends didn't think in that realm, maybe it’s just a simple goal of being the absolute best you can be with little life goals and challenges you can put forward in your recovery.
It's a big thing, you have this for years to come...making that 5-year remission is just the first hurdle, that's where patience and discipline come into place.
Be real about it, don't just sweep such a thing under the rug. This is real, it's your life and whether you like it or not it's going to be tough but most important of all....
Don't let anyone or anything take that beautiful smile away from you!
Live, Love and Walk ya talk!