My name is Pat and this is my story.
I went into hospital for an appendix operation which resulted in the discovery of cancer in the appendix and a colonoscopy was then required. The colonoscopy showed another massive cancer in the colon area, so surgery was required a few days later where half my bowel was removed. It was stage 4 cancer and it had metastasized.
All my friends and family were shocked as I had always eaten healthily, undertaken bowel screenings (all negative) and was a "picture of health". It was not good news! However due to the expertise of my surgeon, I didn't need a colostomy bag which I was extremely thankful about.
After recovering from the surgery my life changed completely. I decided that I needed to have minimal stress in my life and stopped working. Retirement came early as my focus was on healing and living to the best of my ability. Fortnightly chemotherapy started in mid 2018, and next month I'm about to receive my 100th round of chemo.
I've had regular MRI and CT scans throughout. The cancer returned after 2 years and so further surgery was required with a change to the chemotherapy drugs as well. This was successful and currently there are no tumours visible on my scans.
This story is to give you hope though, that life can go on, albeit differently. Cancer has taught me to live in the moment and to love my family and friends like there is no tomorrow. I'm hopeful of a medical breakthrough (like specific immunotherapy) in the future but until then it's chemo every fortnight.
My one piece of advice for others would be to maintain hope and optimism.
Eat healthily, (see dietitian) and exercise (see physio).
Ensure you look after your loved ones by preparing a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Advanced Care Directive.
Make sure your loved ones know all about your money (including Superannuation) and insurance policies.
Spend time with your loved ones, telling them how you feel, appreciate them and make special memories living in the moment together. Laugh a lot!!