I had few, if any signs that I had bowel cancer… some dark, dusty pink coloured blood on my toilet paper for a few weeks. My stool test came back positive and I was put on a waiting list for a colonoscopy at our local public hospital. The bleeding became worse so I paid to have the procedure at a private clinic. My doctor found a couple of polyps and told me there was a larger one that was difficult to remove, and to come back in a few months.
Two days later I had a call to say my doctor needed to see me. I was in the car with my closest friends heading off for a girls weekend away, so I told the receptionist it would have to wait until Monday.
Cancer had not even entered my mind. Why would it? I am 40, I go to the gym 4-5 times a week, I’m healthy, I look after myself, I have a husband who I love and two beautiful teenage daughters – I’m happy. This couldn’t happen to us! THIS CAN’T HAPPEN TO ME.
When I saw my doctor the following week and she told me the news, everything went fuzzy… it really is the way it is depicted in the movies, where everything feels slow and hazy, and you can hear but you aren’t listening.
A week later I had 25 percent of my bowel removed. I also discovered the cancer had spread and needed chemotherapy – another moment where you don’t actually hear what they are saying after the word chemotherapy. I still think to this day our daughters find it hard to say that word.
All the way through my treatment I was very honest and open about my experience. I was so sick but chose not to hide from anyone. I went out to my favourite café regularly, owned by one of my closest friends. I made sure people knew what I was going through… I figured if people saw how awful it was, that maybe they would get themselves checked out.
I am now in remission, but the fear never goes away that the cancer will return. One of the hardest things is coming to terms with the fact that we will always be a family living with cancer, but I recently had the realisation that I am now a cancer survivor.
I want to share my story to help raise awareness of bowel cancer.