I was 47 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.  I wasn’t in any pain.  In fact the only symptoms I had was sporadic blood showing up in my poop and some constipation and cramps.  Nothing really – or so I thought. 

I’d been doing a bit of international travel with work and so the first doctor I saw thought I might have picked up a bug.  I had a stool test but it came up inconclusive.  About two months later a second GP thought I might have a cut in the lining of my rectum and sent me home with some cream.  Finally, a month later my local GP recommended me for a colonoscopy (to get to the bottom of things…).  I would have had to wait a few months in the public system so I decided to get mine done privately ($2500 – ouch). 

But that ended up being the best decision I ever made – as they soon found a very large tumour that was nearly blocking my bowel.  I then had a series of tests and scans – it was a scary time for me and my family as we waited to see if the cancer had spread elsewhere in my body.  Around a month later I was on the operating table to remove the tumour.  I had only just acted in time – the tumour had nearly grown through my bowel wall. 

After I recovered from the surgery I had eight rounds of chemotherapy.  I handled that alright and tried to be at work as much as possible – hanging around the house just did my head in.  I found having an ileostomy (a temporary colostomy bag on my stomach which I did my ‘business’ in) was pretty horrible – it limited what I could do and made me very self-conscious.  But it was necessary to give my lower bowel a chance to heal. 

After chemo I had an operation to remove the colostomy bag and re-join my bowel.  Unfortunately the join failed and the contents of my bowel leaked into my abdomen for around 5 days before the doctors picked it up.  That had set up an extensive general infection in my abdomen that required further emergency surgery.  Luckily after a second go they successfully joined me up and I was free of the dreaded colostomy bag. 

That was about 3 months ago.  I’m very happy to have my body back and to be doing normal things like walking the dogs, playing golf and just generally getting on with my life.