I was 29 years old when diagnosed with bowel cancer. I have had issues with my bowels since I was a teenager, but things got better following my diagnosis with a food intolerance.
For a few months, things started getting slightly worse, but I put it down to eating the wrong foods. I am currently a nurse studying my Master of Advanced Nursing in emergency. So even though I knew these symptoms were not right I just put it down to how my bowels were. It wasn't until I noticed blood and mucus in my poo that alarm bells went off.
I already had an appointment with my GP coming up, as my husband and I had been talking about starting a family. Whilst at the GP I mentioned "It's probably nothing" and told her my symptoms.
Thankfully, I have an AMAZING GP and despite my age, I was booked in for an urgent colonoscopy. From there it is such a blur. I went from seeing the GP on Friday to having a colonoscopy the following Monday.
My husband is a teacher, so he had just gone back to work that day after home schooling due to COVID. I told him not to worry as it was the afternoon and my mum could drop me at the hospital and he could pick me up after the scope.
My scope had been pushed forward due to an opening and when I woke up, I got moved around to an area where my mum was sitting. She asked me if something was wrong because they called her and asked her to come back. I said that I didn't think so, but maybe they were just finished early and called her to pick me up.
It was then that the doctor came in and told us she’d found a tumour. She had wanted me to have support when she told me - that's why they called my mum back. She told me she had done a biopsy and was fairly confident it was cancer. I called my husband to come and he left work early. We had the whole conversation with the doctor again.
I was whisked off for a STAT CT scan to see if it had spread. The doctor told me she already booked me in to see a colorectal surgeon on Wednesday and would call me tomorrow with the results from the biospy and CT.
Tuesday was a long day. Waiting all day. My husband stayed home with me and we deep cleaned the house as a distraction. It was around 7.30pm I received a call from the doctor confirming it was cancer, but thankfully it had not spread to other organs, but there was the possibility of 1 lymph node. Wednesday morning, I saw the surgeon. The conversation is all a blur.
My husband was writing things down frantically, so we didn't miss anything. He then asked us when we wanted to do the surgery and stated he wanted to admit me that night and had me booked in for the next day, but If we needed time to process we could wait - but it would be a couple of weeks.
We decided to go for it. Why wait and sit on it? We wanted to get it over and done with. Once we left, I told my boss what was happening and quickly went home and packed a bag.
Due to COVID-19, my husband wasn't allowed to come up to the ward with me and I had to say goodbye to him at the hospital door. The next morning my surgery was at 9am but I was awake before 6!
I had nurses, stoma nurses and the anaesthetist all come in to see me pre-op. I had been admitted to the private hospital which is across the road to the public hospital where I work and I could see the ambulance bay from my room window.
I had a couple of friends who I had quickly told wave and wish me luck from a distance before their morning shift and after night shift. What happened after the operation was a blur. I was in the intensive care unit for 24 hours. I remember waking up, being told I didn't have a stoma and had multiple drain tubes coming out of my stomach.
I vaguely remember the doctor coming to see me saying he was happy with the surgery and it went well. Once I was moved to the ward, I was there for a week, slowly gaining my independence, so that I could shower myself and eventually walk around the ward.
My work across the road had organised a banner and a group wave with a bunch of nurses and one day asked me to go to the window and did a big wave whilst holding up a sign saying "we love you".
Once I got discharged the surgeon told me he was confident I wouldn't need chemotherapy but would consult with other doctors. I'm now home recovering. I still have a long road to go but considering it was caught early, I was VERY LUCKY. If I hadn't trusted my gut and thought this isn't right who knows when it would have been found and how bad it could have been!