I was diagnosed with rectal cancer the day before my 39th birthday. With no family history at all, so to say it was a shock is an understatement. I had been feeling unwell for the 2 months prior to diagnosis having lost 6kg and noticing a change in my bowel habit. Went along to my Gp, whom I had worked for in the past, and he ordered blood tests and stool samples. Bloods came back all clear and stool showed a parasite called blastocystis hominis. Two weeks of antibiotics followed without any improvement. I returned to the GP and he referred me to a colorectal Surgeon. The five week wait to see him was horrid with worsening diarrhea and then bleeding from the bowel.
Examination revealed a rectal rumor, I went to this appointment on my own as I had no idea that I would be told there and then that I had cancer. I don’t know how I managed to drive home let alone go out to a family dinner that night. I’m a twin and didn’t want to spoil his birthday as well.
The roller coaster of treatment began the next week. Radiation, chemotherapy, bowel resection and ileostomy then more chemotherapy and some hyperbaric treatment and about 10 months later an ileostomy reversal. I foolishly thought that this would be the end of hospitals, etc. I have underlying autoimmune issues (scleroderma) and I think these played a roll in the formation of adhesions and recurrent small bowel obstructions. I have since had four surgeries to divide adhesion and another bowel resection.
During all this the radiation threw my body into early menopause and I developed Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune thyroid disease.
YES CANCER SUCKS and its life changing, but some of those changes are awesome. I’ve met some fantastic people along the way. Strong and inspiring people and not all of them have made it.
I’ve changed and I think its for the better. I choose to see the good in life and people and will pretty much give anything ago. No excuses here!! At 44 I’ve taken up stand up paddle boarding and yoga and have combined the two and do yoga on the paddle board.
I will happily gross people out and talk about poo!! Its important to talk about it and know whats normal for you. Recognizing a change in my bowel habit probably saved my life.
Don’t be a fool, know your stool.