It is perhaps not as noted in media campaigns as breast cancer is for women, but bowel cancer is certainly a cancer that’s sweeping our nation, and impacting young and old.
It is taking too many lives because, let’s be honest, the majority of us don’t particularly like to discuss our bowel habits. It’s a shit topic, but one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
My journey with bowel cancer started in 2003 when I was relatively still young, I was 42. Once diagnosed I realised this disease doesn’t choose age or gender.
My symptoms were extreme pain in my lower abdomen and irregular bowel movements. Not that I have been a regular person, or really bothered to take much notice of my toilet trips but this took it to another level! I decided to have a doctor check me out and was sent for a colonoscopy and, well, there you go. Panic! OMG!
“Calm your mind Yvonne, it’s only a camera that goes up your bum, not the whole film crew.”
Next piece of information… Yes, I had bowel cancer. My mind is racing ….“isn’t this an old man’s disease?”
If you get in early enough your chances of survival are pretty good. I was told before surgery I might end up with a bag (colostomy bag) and I remember saying to the surgeon “if it’s not Hermes, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel I don’t want it”. Joking was my survival mechanism. “Let’s joke my way through this to somehow soften the blow to not only me, but my family.”
Long story short – I caught it early enough that I didn’t need a colostomy bag. I had surgery to remove the tumor and six months of chemotherapy, which to be honest, was more debilitating than the cancer itself.
To this day I still have regular check ups and colonoscopies and am happy to say I have been bowel cancer free since.
So, I’m on a mission to let everyone know to go get checked as soon as you think something isn’t normal. Be vigilant!
Trust Your Gut – It just might save your life.
– Yvonne Tozzi
Together with her daughters Cheyenne Tozzi and Tahyna MacManus, Yvonne shares her story as part of our new ‘Trust Your Gut’ campaign.
View the campaign video here.