I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007 at the age of 50.
I had been noticing changes in my bowel habits for some time but it wasn’t until my abdomen was severely distended and I lost the use of my bowels that I was admitted to hospital.
I was on holiday in Port Douglas at the time, so I was taken to Mossman Hospital.
When I was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer in 2006, I was 45 years old.
I am a wife and a mother of three (now 23, 20 & 16 years old) and an office manager.
I had no family history of bowel cancer and I led a healthy lifestyle before my diagnosis, although I was told further along the process that I carry the HNPCC gene, which is a strong indicator of the disease.
I’d had rectal bleeding and unusual bowel habits for six to eight weeks before going to see my GP in 2008. I was 60 at the time. My GP gave me an internal examination but found nothing. Nonetheless, he was insistent that I see a specialist and made the call while I sat in his surgery, getting me an appointment for the very next day.
I had a colonoscopy within the week and was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer. I had a CT scan the next day, then an ultrasound for tumour staging.
Unlike many people, I had severe symptoms for some time before I got my diagnosis. For four weeks during the time of seeing my doctor and being diagnosed I had very bad stomach pains and was completely unable to eat.
Who would have thought that giving blood could lead to a diagnosis of bowel cancer? I certainly never did. In early 2009, I went along to my local blood bank to make a donation and was told I was anaemic.
I saw my GP who is, thankfully, very proactive and sent me for a range of tests to identify the cause of the anaemia.