When I turned 50 I received the bowel cancer test kit. It was “icky”, but I did it every 2 years.
Occasionally I had blood in my stool but ignored this as I thought it was from haemorrhoids.
When I turned 60 I did the test again and it returned a positive result. My GP said, “don’t worry, only 5% of people that have a positive result have cancer”. So, I’m thinking great 95% don’t, I’m in the clear.
I needed to have a colonoscopy and given it was now December I decided to do it after the Christmas holidays.
When I woke up in a euphoric state (I like a bit of GA) the doctor said we found a cancerous tumour. I literally said, ha ha very funny. But he soon assured me he wasn’t joking, and I was whisked off to radiology for a CT scan to check for cancer cells.
Within a few days I was in the surgery talking to the surgeon. He scheduled me in 2 weeks later. All very daunting!
The surgery was 4 hours and when I woke up he said it had been successful and would take a few days to get the pathology back to see if I needed chemo or radiotherapy, which I was dreading as I know a few people who have had it.
4 days after surgery, which seemed like an eternity, he came to see me and told me the biopsy had shown the cancer was contained in the bowel and there was no need for chemo or radiotherapy. The reason he quoted was because “we got it early”.
I was super relieved as you can imagine. I was in hospital for 11 days and my toilet habits were shot. Recovery was slow and I was off work for 6 more weeks. However, my toilet habits returned to completely normal in a few weeks. During this time I was in regular contact with the Bowel Care Nutritionist from Bowel Cancer Australia, Teresa.
Once I got the diagnosis of “we got it early” I started to tell my friends and family, over 50, to do the test. I was amazed and alarmed that a high percentage had left the test in the bathroom draw, because it was “icky”. Far “ickier” to let bowel cancer go undetected I thought.
I went back to work and got on with my life, firstly having 6 monthly check-ups and CT scans and then annual check-ups.
After my recovery, I started to become passionate about spreading the word to do the test and the advantages of early detection.
On Tuesday 5/09, I had my 5 year colonoscopy. When I woke up the surgeon said “no cancer, you are cured. No more check-ups, see you in 5 years”.
Even though there were no signs the cancer had returned, it was still a massive relief and I admit to shedding a tear.
I am a huge advocate of early detection.