Jodie’s Story

“It’s a scary thing to be told you have Cancer. I was 44, owned a busy cafe, I was a Mum, and a
Wife juggling the aftermath of the first COVID lockdown. I was once told life will only throw you as
much as you can handle, well boy was this a lot to handle! My Uncle & My Dad both had bowel
cancer, my uncle was only in his 30’s, my Dad was diagnosed in his 70’s with stage 4, 8 months
later he passed. I procrastinated getting checked, partly because of dad’s horrendous ordeal,
partly because I didn’t think my insurance would cover the colonoscopy and I didn’t qualify under
the public health system. Instead of ringing my insurance I left it, thinking “I had no symptoms I’m
fit and I eat well, it couldn’t possibly happen to me”.
About a year later I started feeling tired, I was working 60 hours a week of course I was tired, we
went into covid lockdown and my thoughts went to keeping my business going. When lockdown
restrictions were lifted and business started to pickup I ran into a friend. His wife, pregnant with
their second child had just been diagnosed stage 4 bowel cancer and instantly I thought “she’s
too young!” then timed with the bowel cancer advertising I decided I needed to get checked. By
this stage I had started to have some irregular bowel habits which i put down to maybe
haemorrhoids, not enough water, not eating enough fibre etc… my symptoms were minor, minor
enough for some to ignore, but I had a nagging feeling something wasn’t right. I went to my GP
or promptly made a referral for a colonoscopy, I was fortunate that he acted and that I had private
health insurance. Two weeks later I had the colonoscopy and a 10cm tumour removed, I will
never forget my specialist calling me, he said “do you want to come in or would you like me to tell
you over the phone”. I’m not a patient person and the anxiety of not knowing would have been
unbearable, so I said “I would like to know now” he said “I’m really sorry Jodie but it’s Cancer”.
Me being me straight away my thoughts when to “what do I need to do to fix this?” I had an
appointment that afternoon with him and we discussed my options. Surgery was my best option
so within 10 days I found myself on a hospital bed awaiting bowel surgery to remove 1/4 of my
bowel. Once removed it when for testing, It was a long anxious wait for the results, although only
2 weeks it felt like months. I got the news that it was Stage 3B, Cancer had spread to lymph
nodes and chemo was now a reality. I knew very little about chemo treatments, I thought my hair
would be gone! I was terrified. Up until now I hadn’t told many people, losing my hair wasn’t a
vanity thing, it would mean having to tell people and I didn’t want to have people feeling sorry for
me or sharing their stories of their aunties cousins cousin… If I’m honest denial was a factor, to
talk about it over and over would mean it was real! I thought I could handle this on my own, with
very few people knowing …. So I went to my first oncologist appointment and my options were
given, I opted for 4 cycles infusion & tablets and with a few tweaks along the way I was able to
continue working and my ordeal went mostly unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong it was far from easy,
there were days I just wanted the earth to swallow me. Once chemo was over, there was never a
celebration, there was no sense of closure. I tried to get back to “normal” but I always felt like I
was never going to be “normal again. Mentally, emotionally and physically drained, all the bottled
up stuff was beginning to bubble out the top and I often felt like I wasn’t in control anymore. I’ve
never been one to dwell so I knew had two choices, sink or swim. I chose to swim, I focused on
my business, and managed to get that thriving again.
Although I continued with routine blood tests, I still couldn’t get the constant fear of whether it
was gone or if it would come back. I asked my Specialist if I could have my yearly CT scan early, I
felt fine, no symptoms but I just had that niggly feeling! I got my Scan early, there is no words to
describe the anxiety you feel leading up to a scan! On the outside I’m outgoing Jodie but on the
inside I’m a scrambled mess of emotion. I had my scan and usually I would get results within 2
days, but I heard nothing, so I chased up the surgeon and his receptionist said he was really busy
and would ring! 6:30pm on a Friday night he rung, there was a suspicious nodule on my right
lung, my heart sank, he was as surprised as I was so to be sure he sent me off for a PET scan.
That too noted it was suspicious, so I had a meeting with the thoracic surgeon and decided that
surgery would be the best option. So once again I was faced with major juggling with staff and
cafe commitments. On the 9th September I underwent a lobectomy to remove the middle portion
of my lung. 2 Days after surgery we went into lockdown for the 2nd time! In a way this was good
as I didn’t have to stress about the cafe while I was recovering, I just kept thinking wow if I hadn’t
asked for my scan early how much would the delay have impacted the outcome. My Results
came back clear so no need for more chemo! It was a relief. I count every day as a blessing and
everyday feels more and more real! I am truely privileged to be here to share my story, It has
taken a while but I now feel comfortable talking about cancer and I decided it was important for
me to speak out, to raise awareness. I was accepted onto the Community Advisory Panel for the
Australasian Gastrointestinal Cancer Trial Group (AGITG). It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of
a group that is dedicated to GI Cancer research and patient care.
Nobody likes to talk about their bums, but talking about it could save yours or someone else’s life.”