This isn’t a fairy-tale, but….. once upon a time I didn’t think I would get cancer, but I did. In 2005. I chose to ignore the symptoms – weight loss, bleeding, diarrhoea.
In June 2005 my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer and I flew to NZ to be with him not feeling too well myself. I collapsed at work in September and was rushed to the doctor who sent me for a colonoscopy. I was diagnosed with bowel cancer (I knew in my heart that this would be the case).
Hospital admission for a barrage of tests was next. Then my family and I were told what was going to happen….chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My family were wonderful – helping with family chores and making sure I kept my hand in, trying to keep things relatively normal whilst I underwent treatment. I kept a positive outlook. I managed to keep working - 4 days a week, 6 hours a day. I would have gone crazy if I hadn’t been able to keep working. Three months of treatment and finally my doctor said that the cancer had shrunk enough for it to be surgically removed (fingers crossed).
My admission for surgery was scheduled a couple of days before Christmas and because I love Christmas we decided to celebrate a week earlier. It was a wonderful family day.
After surgery and the creation of an ileostomy (for eight months) my doctor gave me the all clear – the best news I could have had. I decided at this point to set myself goals and one of these was my 50th birthday celebration in May 2006 .
I went back to work feeling quite good, having blood tests regularly and then my doctor called me and gave me the devastating news that the cancer had spread to my liver and I would have to undergo more chemotherapy and potentially surgery. (I cried my eyes out when I told my husband).
This round of chemotherapy seemed harder – it was a trial drug, 7 days on and 7 days off. I didn’t think- why me? – I kept to my goals and even though I was as sick as a dog at my 50th birthday it was a wonderful party.
My next goal was my son’s wedding in February 2007, (plus the little goals in between), and with every goal I met I knew deep down I was going to get through. During the months leading up to my liver operation, the palliative care team couldn’t believe that I was still working. I never ever thought I would die. The operation was in October 2006 and recovery took a long time as I had infections. Finally I was given the all clear and was able to enjoy my son’s wedding – a brilliant and amazing day.
To this day I have regular tests (blood, scans, xrays), more than you can imagine, but if these tests are all it takes to keep me on top of things I don’t mind. Last year I had a small lesion removed from my bowel and now am clear again.
When I was undergoing treatment I searched the internet trying to get as much information and support as possible and found that there didn’t seem to be anyone to just talk to about bowel cancer and how women especially cope with it. It would have been nice to talk to someone who had had bowel cancer. I would like to be of some support to other bowel cancer sufferers.
I still make goals and keep a positive outlook - my diary is full until I am 85. My story is not finished. I am passionate about helping others and being there for people with bowel cancer. If I can help one person then I know that I have achieved my goal and that is my aim in life.