My story and journey started in June 2016 when diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer that spread to the lymph nodes in my pelvis, with secondary metastasis within my liver. I felt at first an emotional numbness, followed by fear and a list of what ifs!
I had two major surgeries. In one of the surgeries, they removed a 1.2-kilogram malignant cancerous tumour from my stomach that had just about closed off my top from my bottom bowel. I was rushed into emergency surgery on a Sunday night and within two hours I was undergoing surgery. The surgeon told me the next day that had I not had the surgery when I did, I would have died within 48 hours.
The second major surgery was to remove 3 tumours from my liver that was evident after a CAT/PET Scan. First, I had to undergo 6 months of chemotherapy followed by liver resection surgery. After that, I went through a 2-month recuperation followed by a further 6-months of chemotherapy that was stopped because the therapy was affecting the rhythm of my heart and my blood pressure had reached 199 over 107.
I was hospitalized for 5 days until they got my heart and blood pressure stabilised.
Probably about 10 years prior to being diagnosed with colorectal cancer I often experienced bouts of constipation and diarrhea and had blood in the stool, which was often accompanied by severe stomach cramps and fevers. Many times, I had bouts of unexplained fatigue, tiredness and anaemia and spontaneous vomiting.
My wife would tell me to go and see our family doctor. Being an alpha male, I just kept postponing the inevitable. I was not comfortable with a doctor inserting his finger into my anal passage.
Another 5 years passed, and my condition grew worse until one day I had to go to the supermarket and the violent cramping pains became unbearable as did the involuntary urge to vomit. I was able to drive to my daughter's place which was 5 minutes away and as soon as I went through the front door gagging to hold the vomit in, I ran to the toilet. I vomited repeatedly for the next hour. After the vomiting subsided, I drove home with a raging fever. I knew that I had to go to the hospital and to be honest, I don’t even know how I drove there.
The initial medical examination was that I had some type of stomach virus. They gave me antibiotics and sent me home after a few hours. I wanted to trust the judgment of the doctors, but I knew it was something more sinister. Over the next 2 months every time I ate, within minutes, I would vomit whilst suffering severe stomach cramps.
In 2 months, I lost around 12 kilograms. One Sunday night I became very ill with a raging temperature and consistent vomiting. Returning to hospital and after cancer marker tests they discovered the tumour in my stomach and within hours I was undergoing critical surgery. They removed 30% of my lower bowel. But I thank God that I did not require a Colostomy (or Stoma) Bag.
After my initial diagnosis, I made the decision to adopt a positive mindset in fighting cancer. I wasn’t going to let cancer re-define my identity. I now strongly believe after three years of treatment have passed, having a positive attitude and strong faith and an excellent Multidisciplinary Medical Team, I will win the various fights that cancer brings my way. I must remember that behind every dark cloud the sun is still shining. Dark clouds disintegrate, but the sun still keeps on shining. To quote Olivia Newton-John,
“My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life."