Julia’s Story

“A massive stage III tumour was discovered with surgery 4 weeks later. If it wasn’t for my doctor taking that extra step toward the colonoscopy? I would likely be facing chemo, or death. It was 6 weeks from diagnosis to clearance. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.My BM’s started coming at odd times (middle of the night, during meals) and then after a few months of that, more frequent – with only a little bit at a time – never feeling completely “empty.” A few months later, small amounts – but loose. No pain, no blood. I booked a doc appt and all tests came back negative, but with “a little inflammation in the stool sample.” My doctor said it might be worth doing a colonoscopy – just to rule everything out.

It was a complete and utter shock to learn they’d found a massive tumour – especially given the tests hadn’t shown markers that necessarily point to cancer. The absence of pain and blood made me feel like it was more IBS or diverticulitis- or food allergy stuff. It was also over Xmas – so having to wait for MRIs and appts was so difficult- but I did have a great team at Taranaki Base who sprang into action as soon as they could. My surgery was successful, and a few weeks later they were able to confirm that the lymph nodes had been unaffected. No chemo necessary.

I just had my 2nd year CT scan and no cancer anywhere. My BM’s still come at odd times, and there’s certainly some trauma emotionally that I work through in psychotherapy, but otherwise – being in the clear feels incredibly lucky.

I learned a valuable lesson from my cancer. I had to stop everything and be taken care of by my partner, kids, extended family – and my community. I didn’t realize how much I was loved. What an incredible discovery!
I feel like I got lucky with a doctor who was as curious as I was – despite there being no direct cancer indicators, and encouraged a colonoscopy. Others won’t be as lucky, and may be rushed through an initial appt. Colonoscopies are the only true way of knowing what’s going on. “