I fight back tears as I recall six months prior when, after self-admitting to a hospital on January 21, I asked a doctor for a colonoscopy referral as I was worried about my bowel. Before discharging me, the doctor told me “most people do not put their hands up for colonoscopies as they aren’t very pleasant”. I did not get the referral.
I told doctors my uncle had been diagnosed with bowel cancer when he was 39. His daughter also had polyps removed at 29. However, I was told because he was not an immediate relative, and I did not “fit the criteria” I was not eligible for a colonoscopy.
Anger, regret, frustration, sadness has clawed at me. I felt alone. Sadly, I was to discover I am far from alone in this battle. My life now has become a series of small steps. Some days I take optimistic steps forward, some days I retreat in fear. I miss my life pre-cancer.
But, there have also been days I have cried with laughter and happiness. My heart has burst with love as my family, friends and strangers have wrapped their arms around me. I’ve made connections with other cancer sufferers whose friendship is as deep as I will ever find. The health system might have its faults, but the nurses, surgeons, specialists I have met in both the public and private systems since my diagnosis have exceeded all expectations.
Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was fit and healthy and have been really struggling with the gruelling side effects on my body and my inability to do what I used to, as well as experiencing pain like no other that I did not understand and was quite frightened of. I am extremely grateful for the support from Bowel Cancer New Zealand who has funded my Pinc & Steel physiotherapy sessions while I am undergoing treatment for stage 4 bowel cancer. I didn’t want to exercise and damage my body further so to have someone working with me who can target programmes for me is wonderful.
To get financial assistance to help has also taken a big financial burden off me. I’m paying for unfunded drugs and travel costs to receive treatment, so am very grateful for assistance.