Age at diagnosis: 41
Symptoms: Occasional blood in stool, bouts of diarrhoea, fatigue, fever and nausea
Duration of symptoms: 12 months
Diagnosis: Stage 4 colorectal cancer (liver metastases)
Treatments: Pre-operative chemotherapy and radiotherapy running concurrently, Open Ultra-low Anterior Re-section to remove tumour and involved lymph nodes. Post-surgery: Ileostomy bag for 7 months. Second surgery: close loop, ileostomy reversal.
My story: Working in construction and putting in long hours I put a lot of my symptoms down to the nature of my occupation. I didn’t think much of it until one day I realised having two young children aged 5 and 3 years old, I owed it to them and my wife to get my health in order. I went to the GP requesting a full check-up and specially requested a Bowel Screening Kit. The test came back positive instigating a specialist referral and colonoscopy which resulted in the identification of a 10cm tumour in the colon. A further PET scan identified that it had spread to the liver, with a Stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis.
I was clear for 2.5 years but have since had a recurrence of nodal metastases and am currently undergoing treatment.
I look to the positives and the fact that I proactively made the call to my GP. I often think if I hadn’t taken that action would I still be alive today? Currently I still have a battle on my hands, but at least I like to think my actions have allowed me to spend more time with my family, watching my children grow up.