Ange’s Story

My second child was 18 months old and my first visit to the GP I was told, “I was a busy mum with two young children”. I had blood tests, and nothing was found. Two months later and in horrendous pain I returned to the GP for a walk-in visit because I was in so much pain. The doctor examined me and said it was gastro pain and to try taking gastro soothe for the weekend. If they pain didn’t improve by Monday go back and they would look into something further. They also sent me for another blood test.

I returned home with my two children in pain. The tablets did nothing!!! By Sunday the pain was so intense I thought I was going to pass out.

Off to a weekend A&E clinic I went. I sat in pain waiting until finally I was called. The pain was just like labour pains. They came and went but were incredibly painful. The doctor was questioning a stomach ulcer but very unsure. He looked up my blood results and found them to be very concerning. I was bleeding badly somewhere. Hence why I was going to pass out.

I was put in an ambulance and sent straight to Waikato Hospital. Thankfully after a long night and lots of drugs they sent me for an ultrasound, there it showed something unusual going on in my bowel. I was then rushed in for a CT scan. It showed my large bowel had intersected with my small bowel. We were told this was most likely due to a mass. I straight away thought cancer. The nurses reassured me I was far too young and healthy for it to be bowel cancer.

I was rushed to surgery after several blood transfusions. A few hours later I returned to my room with a morphine pump and began my recovery.

Doctors visited and I regained some strength. All was looking good. Again, people had said it wouldn’t be bowel cancer because I was only 31 years old, ate a healthy diet and was physically fit.

I was discharged from hospital after 8 days. I was told they were sending away the mass just to check and I’d have a follow up.

About a week after discharge, I visited my GP to check the wound and get more blood tests etc. he had no results or any reason to be concerned.

That afternoon I was home alone resting when I got a call from the bowel cancer nurse at Waikato Hospital. She asked how I was doing and if I wanted my results on the phone or to wait for the follow up appointment. I wasn’t dumb!!! The bowel cancer nurse doesn’t ring unless its bowel cancer. How could I wait??? I said I wanted them now.

She politely explained it was stage 2 bowel cancer which was great as it meant it hadn’t got outside the bowel wall. She then went on to tell me I also had, had my appendix out too because they also had a tumour on them. The good news was none of it had spread.

I rang my husband straight away he was just as shocked as I was to receive the news this way, I tried hard to focus on the positive. They got it early because of what my body had done.

13 years on and I have regular colonoscopies and thankfully they have only ever found polyps since. Both my girls will now have colonoscopies from an early age. We had no bowel cancer in the family, I was young fit and healthy. I’m just so grateful my body did what it did otherwise I don’t think they would have found it so early.