Sophie’s story

I was diagnosed with Rectal Adenocarcinoma on the 14th of June 2022. I had no idea what this was or what this meant for my future. Prior to my diagnosis I had noticed a change in bowel habits but I ignored these changes for about 8 weeks and made excuses for the changes as I was too embarrassed to go and speak to my GP about poo. The week of the 30th of May 2022 I was not making it to the toilet on time (at least three times a day I would have accidents), I was in excruciating pain in my lower back and I had stopped eating and drinking.

I wasn’t able to get an appointment with my regular GP but managed to get an appointment with another GP at the same Medical Centre on the 2nd June 2022 The GP I saw that day made me feel like I was imagining my pain and the changes in bowel habits I was experiencing weren’t serious. Thankfully my mum was with me and was able to advocate for me. The GP reluctantly ordered a blood test and asked me to return a stool sample and, in the meantime, told me to go home, drink hydrolyte and take gastro stop. The GP said it was probably just a parasite because I was far too young and healthy for it to be anything more serious.

My regular GP was notified when the results for my tests came back and called to let me know that there was blood found in my stool and that she had booked me an urgent appointment with a Gastroenterologist on Tuesday the 7th June.

My gastroenterologist couldn’t believe the amount of pain I was experiencing. He quickly ordered a CT and I was booked in for a colonoscopy and endoscopy on the 21st of June. I had my CT scan on the 7th and was told on the 9th that a malignant mass was found in my rectum. I had no idea what this meant but all I could think was “it’s cancer, I’m going to die.”

My colonoscopy and endoscopy were brought forward to the 14th of June, and this confirmed the diagnosis of Rectal Adenocarcinoma. We have no family history of bowel/colon/rectal cancer, I am not a smoker, I have always had a healthy and balanced diet, and I was going to the gym 6 days per week up until my diagnosis.

Since my diagnosis, I have had fertility treatment, egg collection and a de-functioning ileostomy which has now been reversed, 5 weeks of radiation and chemo tablets, 16 rounds of IV chemo, my rectum, sigmoid colon and part of my large intestine removed and a number of other procedures.

I am now in remission and still recovering as the collateral damage from cancer has been catastrophic. Never ever did I think I would battle bowel cancer; but I did, and I won. Now I feel a sense of responsibility to raise awareness for early onset bowel cancer and to have the conversations about advocating for your health and making talking about poo the norm.

I’m proud to be an Ambassador for the Jodi Lee Foundation View Your Poo campaign this year.