“During a routine doctor’s appointment, I mentioned in passing that I had been intermittently passing blood for close to six months, but I justified the symptoms to myself with it being the silly season where I had over indulged, or ate spicy food.

My GP’s reply was ‘you should have started with that!!’ Never once did I really think I would have cancer, I was only 38. Wasn’t bowel cancer for old people? I mean you get sent the tests in the post when you turn 50 - I was ages away from that!

After going through the prep, I thought I was through the worse of it. I went into the procedure feeling positive and thinking they may find maybe a polyp but nothing serious, but I was very mistaken. I woke up from the colonoscopy with the doctor telling me they had found something and it was cancer.

I remember lying in recovery in absolute shock, tears slowly rolling down my face. Two weeks later I was in surgery for five hours to remove my tumour, lymph nodes and to create a temporary ileostomy. I was diagnosed with Stage 3C rectal cancer and it had spread to three of my lymph nodes. 

I tend to use humour to deal with things and this was no different, so I gave my tumour a name - Trevor the tumour. I felt that if I gave it a name it wouldn’t be as scary (I also called my stoma - Homer the Stoma). I then started chemo every two weeks for six months. Chemo had its challenges, but I was supported through it by my amazing husband, family and friends. I counted down each cycle and celebrated every small milestone and got back up at every hurdle.

I am now 3 1/2 years clear but still having regular scans and check-ups with multiple specialists, dealing with the subsequent side effects from the treatment. Going dry in July is no hardship, especially if I can help the Bowel Care Nurse pilot program expand so more patients receive dedicated support from a Bowel Cancer Nurse.

I wanted to take part in Dry July once I saw that Bowel Cancer Australia was a beneficiary, to help raise awareness of bowel cancer. Before I was diagnosed it wasn’t something that was on my radar.  Bowel cancer isn’t one of the cancer’s that is considered ‘sexy’. No celebs are rushing to be the face of an awareness campaign, because really who wants to talk about poo? Yet it is the second deadliest cancer, with the young onset number rising.” ~ Shelley.

If you were inspired by Shelley's fundraising activities and would like to support Bowel Cancer Australia through a community fundraiser get in touch with us through our webform