I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer two years ago at the age of 23. I had been experiencing a range of symptoms for about five years, including rectal bleeding, mucous in my stools, diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps to changes in my bowel habits.
Coincidentally, my mother was also having these problems, so we were both seeing a doctor to try to discover their cause.
My symptoms were fairly vague. In January 2010 I had one incident of a very upset tummy, I had had slight rectal bleeding for about 8 months but put it down to having haemorrhoids from having had a baby in the past year, and my bowel movements had been more regular.
I was actually at the GP in January 2010 about getting my moles checked for cancer when right at the end I mentioned the above symptoms. My GP who I now thank for my life, said that at my age I should have nothing and immediately referred me to a gastroenterologist. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind.
In summary, over the last two years I have had three operations, two colonoscopies, six weeks of chemo/radiation, four months of chemotherapy, an ileostomy, a hernia on my bowel surgery scar, gone through instant menopause and had to give up work.
However, since going through bowel cancer, all my tests have been clear and my last CT is in September 2013, which will be two years since the operation.
I am a 32-year-old teacher, mother of two beautiful girls aged one and three and wife of to a wonderful husband. In April this year, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Before my diagnosis I felt extremely tired – still capable of working but unusually fatigued. Given that I’d had my second child less than 18 months earlier, I just put it down to being busy. I also had some odd digestive symptoms: I’d feel sick after a large meal, get stomach pains after eating fatty food and have unusual bowel motions after drinking milk.