Donald’s Story



August 2019 – my wife, two kids and I returned from an amazing adventure overseas. We spent 4 weeks in Canada, which included some study and some fantastic family adventures. We all came back with a sense of excitement and of wonder at the amazing adventure we got to do as a family. It was an amazing family adventure and a peak experience for us all as a family. But a storm was on the horizon that none of us where expecting.

I had some tests done before I left. These came back with indications of some slight bowl inflammation. But more than likely nothing to worry about and probably virus related or haemorrhoids . Just to make sure, my GP got me to book in for a procedure to rule out any worst case scenario.

Seven days after we arrived back in Aotearoa, I awoke after a colonoscopy to find my wife had been called to come in to see the Dr with me. I didn’t think anything of this but then the squall hit.

In my hand were pictures of what he explained he was very confident was a cancer. The sun was gone, covered up by the black clouds, this boat that I was on was now being tossed around by the raging sea. We paused, with an Oh! The Dr explained lots and was able to book me in for a consult with a surgeon the next day. He was confident I would beat it. But I remember little else of what was said. I was just 41 years old with no family history of bowel cancer.

So we drove home, our four and seven year old were in the back seat asking tons of questions about the procedure (they where fascinated about how I had a camera up my butt), but all I could think was “Well this sucks”. Fresh in our mind was the loss of my wife’s sister in law to bowel cancer 18 months prior. She left behind my brother in law and 3 young children. 

We got the kids in bed, we talked and cried. But I’m a ‘half full’ kind of guy, and was holding on to what the Dr said, it looked early, and I had a good shot at beating it. We talked to the kids the next day explaining that though I wasn’t sick, I had something in me that the Drs had to take out because if it stayed there it would make me sick and I could die. They where troopers and together provided much strength for me during the uncertainty.

Now those who know me, know that I wasn’t going to lay down and take it, but I would do anything and everything to grow old with my wife and see my kids reach all their milestones. I had health insurance so a week later I had the tumour and part of my bowel removed. Waiting for the tests results to come back, and then see an oncologist to see what the next step was after a six week recovery. The result was the stage 1 cancer was removed and it looked like the tumour was contained, no further treatment required. There was a big smile on my wife and my face when we found that out.

But I know that that isn’t the reality for many people including our amazing sister in law. Who we miss deeply. I want to help raise awareness and support Bowel Cancer NZ for all they do for families who’s story was different to mine.