I was 29 years old when I was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer.
A happily married mum of two young children, I was enjoying a carefree life.
I’d been experiencing a range of odd symptoms for the past twelve months and decided to see my doctor after not being able to kick a simple cold virus.
I was prescribed antibiotics and sent for Iron studies.
The iron studies showed I was severely anaemic and so I was sent for an iron infusion the next day, closely followed by another infusion the next week.
A few months passed and I’d observed a change in bowel habits, blood in stools and abdominal pain.
I went on holidays so I waited a month before seeing my doctor.
My doctor thought my symptoms were unusual and referred me on to a specialist who would conduct a colonoscopy and gastroscopy.
Four months passed before I underwent the procedure.
I’d gone to the hospital expecting to be diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis because my GP had suggested either of these could be contributing to my issues.
Upon awaking from the procedure the doctor came in to see me.
He said, “We’ve found something nasty in your bowel and I want to send you for a CT scan tomorrow.”
My heart hit the floor.
I was shocked.
‘How could I have cancer at 29 years old?’ I thought.
A week later I found out my results.
It was malignant but it had not metastasised.
I felt relief and a sense of dread regarding what was to come.
The day after diagnoses, I was admitted to hospital with uncontrollable vomiting.
I had to stay 9 days in hospital with a blocked bowel, which was followed by a right hemicolectomy.
A month following that surgery, I started my first cycle of chemotherapy, one of twelve.
Currently I am five cycles into my twelve-cycle round of chemotherapy.
It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been as bad as I’d imagined – and yes, I get to keep my hair.
For anyone experiencing any symptoms, I would urge them not to ignore them because early detection can be the difference between life and death.
Don’t be embarrassed to consult your doctor and remember, you’re never too young to be told you have bowel cancer.
Update - Kick Ass 2018
I was diagnosed one year ago with stage three colon cancer. Prior to diagnosis I was experiencing anaemia, blood in stools, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.
The tumour, along with half my colon, was removed via laparoscopic surgery. This was closely followed by six months of chemotherapy.
During treatment I found getting out of the house helped a lot with managing side effects and maintaining good mental health. Visiting friends, going for walks, coffee dates etc.
I'm currently in remission and hope to stay that way. People call cancer a "journey", I call it a hijacking.
If you find yourself struggling always reach out for help. I found a beautiful bunch of women and with those women we created a Facebook group. A group where women going through bowel cancer can chat about chemotherapy, kids, bowel motions and everything in between. We even flew across the country to meet each other!
Bowel Cancer Australia has been a fantastic resource. The Nurses and Nutritionist have been exceptionally helpful. If I have any questions, I just pick up the phone and they're always there to listen.
If I could give one piece of advice to women going through a similar diagnosis it would be to stock up on toilet paper, you'll use a crap load!