“Dad, do you have cancer?”
“Yes mate, yes I do”
In my 48 years, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to explain to my son I had cancer…I fluffed it up so much that he had to ask me directly.
I don’t normally cry in front of my boy, but this time was different…I was told earlier that day (November 2021) that they found a cancerous tumour in my bowel during what I though was a routine colonoscopy looking for polyps to remove.
I was happy, healthy (outside of cancer) and was on top of the world having started a new job which I absolutely loved. My cancer was advanced but as the surgeon said “it’s on its knees but hasn’t started walking yet”. The tumour was located in an awkward position between my lymph nodes, so surgery was out of the question….Dr’s wanted to get treatment started straight away before it grew and spread.
Just like that, before I knew it, I was sitting in a chair receiving my 1st of 6 chemo treatments, then I would endure 5 weeks of radiotherapy before finishing 2 more treatments of chemo…all over a 6 month period.
I never saw this as part of my life (I mean, who does) but it was my new normal. I was lucky that the side effects were minimal…my fingers tingled, my hair thinned, the metallic taste (oh, so so bad) and I had fatigue, but with all that it gave me time to work on my mental health and remain positive… It was hard though as Omicron was rampant, especially in schools, so I had little time to spend with my son. We would still try and get out and about (we never miss the Adelaide Fringe) but I didn’t want to catch covid and jeopardise my treatments.
I spent most of my time at home, alone. The loneliness and boredom was intense and I found myself constantly messaging family, friends, just anyone to talk or try and catch up for coffee. I felt like a pest.
Fast forward to now and I’m feeling fine. I’ve finished my treatments and now will wait for scans in June…hoping they provide me with a positive result. The next 5 years will mean constant check-ups and precautions to make sure there is no return of this life changing disease.
I am so thankful for the amazing people around me, especially my son and his Mum. Cancer does strange things, it makes people distance themselves from you whilst at the same time, it reconnects you with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in years…if this disease has done anything, it’s made me stronger, more aware of my surroundings, people around me and made me proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved. I won’t let this get the better of me or beat me, I have too much to live for.
I owe it all to my Dr’s and the incredible nurses who guided me through this process. Was I scared? Absolutely…but without the amazing medical staff, I wouldn’t be in this position to talk about it and move forward.
Don’t ever be afraid or put off getting checked out…you know your body the best and if something doesn’t feel right, get checked again…I wish I insisted when I was told my symptoms were “just hemorrhoids”….and talk to people about your experience.
To me, mentally, if I talked about it to people I wasn’t afraid or stressed and allowed my body to concentrate and work together with the medication to kill this thing.
Please support the wonderful team at Bowel Cancer Australia to help fight and find a cure to this horrible disease.