In August 2010 my life changed forever. Nothing can prepare you for a bowel cancer diagnosis at just 38 years old.
I had been given what I thought was a routine colonoscopy to investigate the cause of my iron deficiency, which my doctor thought was probably due to an ulcer. But as I lay in bed in the recovery room after being told they had found a tumour, I remember thinking: ‘I’m too young. I have a husband and two young boys. This can’t be happening to me’.
I was 28 when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January 2011.
I’d had rectal bleeding, changed bowel habits and stomach pain for a while but had put off investigating the symptoms – I was living in China at the time so I figured it was either an intestinal infection that I couldn't seem to shake or a reaction to something I’d eaten.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 after experiencing changes to my bowel habits over approximately 2 months, which was followed by abdominal pain. This led me to my GP who thought the stomach upsets were nothing serious so prescribed a reflux medication and sent me on my way.
I soon returned to my GP after experiencing rectal bleeding, when he then referred me for a faecal occult blood test immediately.
In April 2010, I suffered a huge amount of bleeding when I went to the toilet. I had no warning signs – it just happened out of the blue. It was so bad that I went straight to the emergency ward at the hospital. I think they thought it was just haemorrhoids so I was given a DRE (digital rectal examination) and the doctor took some blood and sent me home.