Age at diagnosis: 33
Symptoms: Stomach cramps, fatigue, diarrhoea and anaemia
Duration of symptoms: 3 months
Diagnosis: Stage 3 bowel cancer
Treatments: 2/3rds of large intestine removed and 6 months of chemotherapy.
My story: I had stomach cramps. A mate at work had just had stomach cramps and been to the doctor, they lasted a couple of weeks and he had the all clear so I assumed I was experiencing the same bug etc. The cramps fluctuated in intensity over a period. After I realised I’d been having the cramps for 3 months I went to the doctor.
Blood tests revealed I was anaemic. More bloods and stool tests were taken and I was booked in for a colonoscopy and gastroscopy. After a few weeks I’d still not been allocated the procedures when I had severe stomach cramps. I went back to the doctor and I was pushed through as urgent. I had my colonoscopy and gastroscopy the next week. The colonoscopy revealed a 6cm tumor in my transverse colon. A few days later biopsy results confirmed it as cancerous.
I was booked in for surgery the following week, December 13. Out a week later. Started 6 months of chemo in February.
Prior to diagnosis (and for the most part, since) I have always been fit and healthy. I eat well, I exercise, look after myself, have had no other diseases etc. Results revealed no genetic evidence for the cancer being hereditary, no indication of it being diet related. Just bad luck.
I’ve remained positive throughout my whole journey and just tried to be sensible; get enough nourishment, rest and workout when I can. Trying to keep my body strong and keep my life as normal as possible i.e. keep working, maintain the same weight, keep enjoying the same things.
I’ve tried to be open and talk about it a lot as I don’t see any reason to be private about it. I think realistically everyone’s going to have some experience with cancer at some point in their life; if not personally then someone they know, someone close to them, so I think it’s important to talk about it, share experiences so it does’t have to be so scary, and the main thing being to encourage people to not sleep on any symptoms. Go see a doctor, get it checked out. Catching it early is paramount and often means it’s treatable/manageable.