Elaine’s story

I was 26 years old when I began experiencing symptoms. I owned a cafe and was in the process of selling it. I was working six days a week and felt really drained and tired, which were the first signs, but I just thought it was from everything that was going on. I then started having regular abdominal pain and a constant pain inside my bottom, so severe I couldn’t eat, sleep or concentrate.

I went to the doctor who without even examining me said I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and hemorrhoids and gave me medication for the IBS.

Another month went by with no improvement. I felt exhausted and had lost a lot of weight so I went back to the doctor who then gave me something to treat hemorrhoids, again without examining me.

I decided to see a different doctor, who straight away gave me a blood test, and booked me in for a colonoscopy. To my dismay they found I had stage III colorectal cancer.

I underwent radiotherapy and had surgery to remove the tumour and lymph nodes, followed by chemo.

Through this journey I decided to plan my wedding… I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from living my life, and it gave me a goal … something exciting to look forward to and celebrate at the end of a horrible year.

I think staying positive and planning my wedding is what got me through. I continued to go to work in my retail job as much as I could manage, which helped take my mind off hospital visits and surgery. It also helped me to stay active and feel fit.

The only things I would have done differently is to preserve my fertility by storing my eggs, as I’m now in early menopause from the treatment. I would also have seen a different GP for a second opinion sooner. My surgeon told me seeing a different doctor saved my life.