So where to begin?
2020 was a tough year for everyone, but I was dealt an extra cherry on top when my Gastroenterologist said "I have some bad news, you have bowel cancer"...
I was 34 and it was stage 4B.
After the shock had passed, survival mode kicked in and I knew I wanted to fight and tackle it head on. I just wanted to know what the next step was.
A subtotal colectomy, partial gastrectomy, then 6 cycles of chemo, add a liver resection and cholecystectomy, followed by another 6 cycles of chemo.
I am in remission now finally, but it’s been the toughest year of my life. I had such an amazing and talented medical team, just in awe of them all.
I was amazed that my surgeon could just take out a section of my large intestine and just re-attach what was left. Pretty much my bowel movements are back to normal.
In COVID times, going into surgery (May and October), it was pretty tough. I was alone in my hospital room preparing for surgery. During recovery I was allowed one nominated visitor for 1 hour a day. But of course, this had to be done and those measures kept all of us safe from COVID. My nurses were so wonderful during this time, just lovely people, they really looked after me.
I completely surprised myself learning a resilience I never thought was possible within me. But I could have never gotten through it without the overwhelming support from all my friends and family. It really was critical, all the visits (when COVID would allow), encouragement, gifts and kind words kept me going and staying positive. Especially my close family and friends who have done so much for me throughout this journey, whether it was making sure I was eating enough, chats, spending time with me and the many poop and cancer jokes 😅 because you can only laugh right?
What also helped was having income protection insurance! I didn't have to worry about not working, I was financially OK which allowed me to just focus on my health.
They found I have Serrated Polyposis Syndrome, usually a hereditary condition but I had no family history and the reason I had been misdiagnosed with IBS. It was the story of my friend’s husband and the ‘never2young’ campaign that really made me push for further investigation when I noticed blood in my stool… months after I started having intermittent stomach cramps.
If you notice changes in your bowel habits, get it checked out! Only you know your body better than anyone else! Push for further investigation if you feel it's necessary and get a second opinion. I wish that I had pushed harder, earlier, to get a colonoscopy. I had mentioned I was concerned about bowel cancer, but it was brushed off because of my age and because I had no family history.
Here's to hoping it never shows its ugly face ever again.