In May 2006 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I was 41.
For more than a year I had been feeling extremely tired and prior to diagnosis noticed blood in my stools and the increased sensation to empty my bowels more frequently. One day while out swimming I felt the urge to go – that was the final trigger to have my health investigated.
After a few visits to my GP I insisted on a colonoscopy. I had stage II bowel cancer.
Three tumours were removed along with 70 per cent of my bowel. Luckily I had listened to my body and the cancer was detected early.
I have always been a swimmer but even more so now. My solo swims are where I do my thinking and meditation and I am fortunate to be healthy enough to compete in several big water swims. Looking back, the biggest hurdle was helping my family cope with my diagnosis.
There is a stigma associated with cancer – people treat you differently. It’s been a mentally and physically exhausting journey. With regular ongoing checks I have now reached the 5 year milestone .. my present to myself was a tattoo: CARPE DIEM V/5 (sieze the day / Victory / 5 years).
I AM A SURVIVOR