Having had a family history of bowel cancer, with the disease affecting both my father and my sister, and a sensitive digestion to lots of different foods, I have been diligent in getting tested every 3 years since the age of 36.
My tests always came back clear.
Halfway through 2020 , amid lockdown and a global pandemic, I started to notice some more serious bloating and some sharp pains on my upper right quadrant of my abdomen.
I started seeing a top Gut Naturopath and overhauled my diet as well as a Gall Bladder Specialist (as my pain presented like gall stones) to get an abdominal ultrasound done and a CT scan....All came back clear.
Seven weeks after my negative scan results, lying in bed late one night with a stomach so swollen it looked like I was 6 months pregnant, I decided to just throw myself in an Uber and take myself to St Vincent’s Emergency Hospital, only to be told that I had a large blockage in the small intestine which was sitting in front of some malignant cells in the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen).
What the hell???... All I could think was "No you have made a mistake.!"... I had just done a colonoscopy 6-months earlier and Ct scans 7 weeks earlier.
I was immediately operated on and had 50cm of small intestine cut out as well as 17 Lymph nodes taken out and was told I had stage 4 incurable cancer.
I was blessed that my two female surgeons had small enough hands to save me from getting a stoma. Small mercies I guess.
What I learnt after this is that Small Intestinal Cancer is rare ....and a colonoscopy doesn't go into the small intestine .
For me it presented like gall stones and liver pain.
There is a special test for this which only a few gastrointestinal doctors do where you have to swallow a camera. To this day I still haven't had the test done, because by the time they found mine it could be detected on a CT scan. I also had put on weight. When they opened me up I had 3.5 litres of fluid in my abdomen (not all cancer makes you lose weight).
I am currently doing 12 rounds of chemo ( Folfox) and have just completed round 8. I have also changed my diet to plant-based and meditate every day and engage in other holistic approaches like acupuncture, reiki, herbs, and red-light therapy.
I’ve had a few breaks form chemo due to an infected port and getting vaccinated.
Doing Chemo during a pandemic has had its perks to be honest. At least everyone has been wearing masks which helps and because of lockdown I don't get FOMO because let’s face it...No one can go out and do anything!!!
But as we open up now, it does make me a bit scared because my white blood count dropped quite low the other week after I got the vaccine, which I did to help protect myself. I’m not sure if my body would survive such a hideous virus like Covid 19 .
After 6 rounds, I did my halfway scans and I was shocked to be told that they couldn't see any of the cancer ... I am continuing with the chemo at a slightly reduced rate as the neuralgia in my hands was getting quite bad and the metallic taste in my mouth was awful ....
I will get a PET scan once the chemo has left my body and hopefully, we can get a more definitive result.
I do believe in the power of the mind (I read a lot of Dr Joe Dispenzas books) as well as the magic of science. Cancer doesn't have to always be a death sentence.
In the mean time I will keep on my path to health throwing everything at it and keep vacuuming twice a day to suck up all the hair that has been shedding....( I have lost about one-third of my hair but strangely, mostly from underneath). Not all chemos cause you to lose your hair... Being a freelance makeup artist in Television for the last 25 years, I know the work that goes into keeping a wig looking real... and I’m not sure at 55 I want to go back to my punk rock phase with a bald head.... so far, I am lucky...... I've escaped both 🙏🏻