Jacqui’s story

I am 35 years old with a two year old daughter and a wonderful husband.

Eight months ago I went to the GP for stomach cramps and bloating. Whenever I ate I would have terrible stomach aches. I had many blood tests and was told to go on elimination diets to find out if I was intolerant to a certain food. Cancer was never even brought up and not even in the back of my mind.

I saw another GP, telling them my stomach hurt 80% of the time. Finally, the pain got so bad and none of the elimination diets were working so I went to a third GP. She immediately wrote me a referral for a colonoscopy to see what was going on.

When I woke from the colonoscopy I was told I had bowel cancer. I went into shock and thought I’d not woken from the procedure yet and was dreaming. Unfortunately it wasn’t a dream and I really did have cancer. It was the worst day of my life.

I had emergency surgery days later to remove the cancer, which is when I found out it was Stage 3b and that the cancer had probably been growing for 7-8 years!! Cancer was also found in 1 out of 43 lymphnodes that were removed, so I am currently having chemotherapy to improve my chances of it not returning.

I was told if I don’t have chemo I have a 50% chance of surviving 5 years, and if I do have it I have an 80% chance of surviving 5 years. I still don’t like those numbers and refuse to dwell on them. I’ve only had two rounds of chemo so far but they have been quite hard on me. I had to be hospitalised for both of them which means I have to be away from my family.

I am hopeful that the chemo is going to work and that it will get easier, as I still have a lot to get through.

I’m sharing my story because I want to spread the word that you are never too young to get bowel cancer. If you feel like something is wrong please don’t give up, and if you aren’t happy with the answer your GP gives you, persist!