In March 2017, at 41 years of age, I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.
My symptoms were off and on. Tiredness, bowel changes, stomach cramps. I cut out foods and drinks that made me feel sick and experienced unexplained fevers. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but tests didn’t show anything. I’d had enough and demanded some answers. I told my doctor I wasn’t letting up until I knew what was wrong....I requested a colonoscopy, stool test and inflammatory marker blood test (CRP) to name a few.
The colonoscopy found a 4cm tumour and the agonising wait for scans showed it had gone into the bowel wall and into some lymph nodes.
So my last 8 months have been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Wins and losses. So many tears. Pain and despair. I’m still going strong, fighting hard and hopefully on the home stretch now.
- 5.5 weeks of radiotherapy and chemo treatment
- major bowel surgery to remove half of my large intestine, 40 lymph nodes and rectum
- 4 further chemo cycles taking me to 446 cancer killing chemo tablets
- 17 weeks with an Ileostomy bag
- another surgery just 2 weeks ago to reverse the bag and put my bowel back together
- who knows how many pain killers, anti-nausea medication, blood thinning injections, gastro stop tablets and other side effect medication
The treatment made me hit early menopause and become infertile - just a few more challenges to face both physically and emotionally.
It’s recovery time for now and training my bowel to work again. Continued oncologist, surgeon and specialist appointments and tests. Signs are good and I’m staying as positive and strong as I have throughout.
Strength, love and courage has got me through. My kids, family and friends have been amazing and I’m so thankful for their love and support.
I knew I was a strong cookie but god damn - I’m so much stronger than I thought!
Raising awareness and talking about my experience has helped me and hopefully those close to me.
I’m hoping that continuing the conversation and getting involved in Decembeard can raise awareness, fundraise and help beat bowel cancer!
The kids and I will be raising awareness (with our fake beards) while Hubby Paul, Dad, Brother Paul and other amazing mates will be doing their best to get involved too. I can’t wait to see the pics!!
If you’d like to show your support and get involved, please keep the conversation going and donate whatever you can by hitting the ‘Donate Now’ button. You are welcome to share this page too :)
Love to you all, Leah