My name is Jacob, I live in Perth WA, and I was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer in August 2022 at the age of 31. Since then, my life has been turned upside down however my story is one of luck, resilience and hope.
It all started when I went to see my GP with some very mild symptoms, an itchy bottom and a slight increase in the number of times I was visiting the porcelain throne. I was shocked when he decided to refer me for a colonoscopy thinking it was a bit overkill for an itchy bum. After all I was expecting to be given some cream for the itch, told to have a week or two off the beers and maybe eat a salad for lunch.
A couple of weeks later I went in for the colonoscopy and when I woke up, I was shocked to hear the doctor tell me they had found a large tumour in my colon. Further testing confirmed it was cancer and it had unfortunately metastasized to my liver as well.
I was booked if for surgery (lower anterior resection) less than two weeks later and with the help of my amazing medical team all went well, without any complications. The idea then was to have a liver resection to remove the two cancerous lesions. Unfortunately, during my six-week recovery from the initial surgery, the lesions in my liver increased from 2 to 14. With this new information, and realising the cancer was spreading quite fast, my treatment plan was revised and I was told we needed to cancel the liver resection and start chemotherapy as soon as possible.
I have since completed 12 cycles over 6 months of high strength chemotherapy and immunotherapy (Folfoxiri & Bevacizumab) plus also had two liver micro-ablation procedures.
Cancer is something that has affected my close friends and family as much as it has affected me. It's been a long, hard nine months dealing with the harsh side effects, sleepless nights and stress that accompanies cancer treatment. However, it was all made worth it when I received my most recent scan results that showed no active cancer cells!!
My battle is far from over and I continue to have chemotherapy each fortnight to try and reduce the chance of reoccurrence which is unfortunately quite high. As someone put it to me, I may not be out of the woods, but I've stepped out of the quicksand.
At the beginning I mentioned that my story is one of luck which may sound silly for someone currently fighting Stage 4 bowel cancer. However, my story unlike many others shows how fast someone can go from doctor’s appointment to treatment. Unfortunately, many others, especially younger people are constantly misdiagnosed for months wasting precious time and inevitably being diagnosed at a later stage than they should have been. In my case if my GP hadn't erred on the side of caution, or my wait times for treatment were longer, my story would be a whole lot different and likely much shorter.
Early detection is key – never let anyone including health care professionals tell you that you’re too young for bowel cancer!!
I have and will continue to document my journey on social media with the hopes of raising awareness and also helping bowel cancer patients and their families navigate their own journeys. If you would like to follow along or just connect, feel free to add me on Instagram or TikTok - @crushbag