My mother passed away with breast cancer when I was 10, so I have always been diligent with screening and looking after my health. I would go to my doctor on a regular basis to make sure everything was all OK.
In February of this year I had been quite tired, had a lot of back and abdominal pain so I went for a check-up with my GP. Blood tests taken read an Hb of 72 so I was called immediately to go to hospital for a blood transfusion. From there I underwent a colonoscopy and gastroscopy to find out where the blood loss was coming from.
At the age of 35 I started experiencing rectal bleeding so my GP recommended I have a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy confirmed three growths located within my bowel. After seeing my GP it all happened within weeks, it all seemed so fast yet very professional.
After being diagnosed I was required to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Two weeks before Christmas I commenced my radiation cycle which included trips to radiology every day for 6 weeks and chemotherapy in a tablet form, which included 3 pills, twice a day.
When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer I did not have enough time to feel ‘sad’ or ‘worry’ too much. I am naturally an optimistic person and an ‘action man’. “I can get through this!” I thought to myself.
Prior to my diagnosis at age 26, I had been experiencing dull pains in my pelvic area for 3 to 4 years, extending up through to my belly button and around to the right side of my body.
In early November 2010 I noticed some weight loss and a change in my bowel habits, including rectal bleeding. I went to the doctor in mid-November and was diagnosed with anaemia and booked in for a colonoscopy later that month. I was told on the day of the colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer.
The next step was surgery, a high anterior resection, which was done in mid-December.
It all happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to dwell on what was going on, but it never occurred to me before my diagnosis that I might have bowel cancer. I was so young and so busy caring for my two beautiful teenage children that I just didn’t think I was a likely candidate for the disease. But my father had a very similar surgery just eight weeks before mine so it can certainly be said that bowel cancer runs in my family.