For someone who has been into fitness, healthy living and distance running to be diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of February this year was
In April I was training for marathon no. 14 in Canberra. I was experiencing intermittent abdominal pains in the morning especially when I was exercising. I will describe the pains as an extreme stitch with the addition of a knife cutting through my stomach.
However, I completed the Canberra marathon in a personal worst time 4 hours 23 minutes.
After the Canberra marathon weekend I visited my GP concerned about my constant fatigue and the now constant abdominal pains. She referred me to a physician who thought I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and based on my symptoms, suggested a change of diet for a 3 month trial. I made the diet changes and for a time this seemed to manage the symptoms. I might add that I had an ultrasound and blood tests which seem to show no major illness apart from anaemia. Anaemia I have since learnt can be a pointer to cancer.
During this time I was training and focusing on the 10 kilometre series and managed to race a season best time in the Run Sydney half marathon at Olympic Park and completed the Centurion 10km series; an achievement I did not appreciate (at the time) because I thought my race times could have been faster.
Towards the end December the pains returned with a vengeance and I was now extremely fatigued. December was a very busy month for me I was working hard and thought my exhaustion was due to work and lifestyle factors. Christmas came and went and in January this year I determined my number one New Year’s resolution was to resolve my health issues.
More tests were carried out and I had a colonoscopy. My results were not good, that’s when the cancer was discovered. Although this was an unexpected surprise, this cancer diagnoses was a relief, I felt for a long time there was something seriously wrong with my body. It was frustrating at the time, that it took the medical professionals 11 months to diagnose the cancer.
I was lucky I have had wonderful treating doctors and the support of family and friends. After major surgery I had 6 months of chemotherapy and when I felt well enough I tried very hard to maintain a level of fitness. During this time I continued to run, this was very important to me, as it made me feel in charge of my life. I took part in some of the 10km Series City 2 Surf and the Bridge Run.
Chemotherapy affected me more than I expected. The fatigue and nausea can be and is debilitating. I managed this with yoga and towards the end of the treatment I started acupuncture which I believe worked a miracle.
Lessons learnt from this experience:
Bowel Cancer facts.