It was September when I visited my GP. I was experiencing a low mood and significant fatigue. A blood test showed my iron to be at a count of 6 so I was promptly booked in for an iron infusion.
My iron deficiency was attributed to me being a woman (menstruation), a mother (having lost blood during delivery and breastfeeding) and a vegetarian (19 years without ever having low iron).
With inconsistent blood results and an iron level which dropped again after the infusion proved none of these to be the cause of my issues.
I was fortunate to have doctors willing to err on the side of caution and escalate the investigation.
A gastroenterologist suggested a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, despite being fairly certain that he wouldn’t find anything.
He was the same surgeon who later told my partner and I following that he had found a tumour and that I had bowel cancer.
The next day, I had a CT scan to check if there were any other clear cancer spots or tumours. I’ve never been as relieved as I was the moment I learned there weren’t any.
Later that week, I was booked in for a right hemicolectomy. They removed 32 lymph nodes, 5 of which tested positive for cancer cells.
The surgery went well, but the tests revealed I was Stage III.
I’m so grateful to the doctors who were up front about statistics, research, outcomes and all the relevant information. This allowed me to be pragmatic and see myself as having a real opportunity at success.
Initially it was pretty dire times. I was overcome by fear and an overpowering desperation to mother my son and see him grow up.
Since then, I’ve healed incredibly well and have found a new enthusiasm for exercise and have been eating really well. I’m now in the best shape to begin my chemotherapy, which I will receive over six months in 12 sessions.
I’ve had an incredibly positive attitude which, to be honest was fairly surprising. I’ve definitely kept my very dry and inappropriate humour, which I feel has allowed others to relax around the big ‘C’.
It’s all becoming quite ‘real’ now that I’m approaching chemotherapy, so perhaps it will be a very different story once that’s over.