I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer aged 39 just before Christmas 2014. I thought my life had ended… The specialist doctors were in shock considering my age.
On the lead up to being diagnosed, going on 2 years I was walking around feeling bloated and in pain daily thinking I had IBS. I had been for numerous blood tests and ultra-scans and nothing was detected, well it didn’t enter their minds that it would be cancer. I just knew something was wrong. I had been reading up on the internet and everything was pointing to bowel cancer, from the blood in stools to bloating etc., but the doctors kept telling me it’s just IBS and piles. I even changed my diet to plant based and cut out gluten, I started drinking green juices, which seemed to help with the pain most days, so thought yeah maybe it is just IBS and all the while this thing was growing inside of me.
On the 12th September 2014, I woke up to go to the toilet and I had to ring the doctor to get an appointment. I thought I was dying with the amount of blood that was leaving my body, luckily they had a slot that day. I needed someone to take me seriously that day as I felt like I was being fobbed off every time I went to see them. When I told the doctor what I saw he arranged for me to have a colonoscopy. I waited a couple of weeks for an appointment to which they found a tumor. The results from the biopsy came back inconclusive but they believed it to be stage 3 colon cancer.
I would have to have a CT and PET scan to see if it had spread anywhere else in the body, surgery to remove a big section of my colon and after surgery 6 cycles of chemotherapy (low dosage) as a precaution. I turned 40 beginning of January 2015 and with everything going on didn’t even get to celebrate. A few weeks later I was in surgery which went really well, I was thankful to be alive and that I didn’t need a stoma. Recovery/side effects of surgery was awful, from not being able to sleep, couldn’t keep food down, the excruciating pain in my stomach and having no energy for anything. I was advised to exercise by taking short walks to build up my strength in my legs and regain stamina.
Chemotherapy was not the greatest, and I wasn’t most pleased about having all those chemicals pumped into my veins, the first thing I thought about was…will I lose my hair! The nurse assured me that it would just thin. Intravenous & tablets were my poison and the side effects was nausea, pins & needles and tiredness to name a few. Around the time I was having chemo it was winter and the drugs I was taking didn’t react well to anything cold so when I went outside my eye lids, mouth, hands and feet would go into spasm, I’d have numbness and even stiffness, I even had trouble holding cutlery, cups and drinking/eating. Anything cold was a no no, as my throat would seize up.
The drugs really weakened my immune system and in the end I only had to have 5 cycles instead of the 6 due to my white blood count being too low to cope with another dose. During the months of chemo I got myself back into the swing of things doing the things I loved before cancer by getting myself back in the gym, doing classes and yoga as I read that yoga helps build your immune system and overall wellbeing. Even though the whole process has been scary I was determined not to let it dampen my spirit, I had to maintain a positive attitude, and carry on with the hand that was dealt to me.
I have had some amazing support from friends and family especially from my other half who has been an absolute rock, this situation has made as much stronger as a couple. Cancer certainly made me appreciate life and what you have.
A year has passed and doctors are very happy with my progress, No cancer detected… Thank the Lord. I still have my 6 monthly check-ups which consists of CT scans, colonoscopy and blood tests and still have slight numbness in my hands and feet from time to time, but that nothing compared to before.
Life is good… I am truly blessed, because it could have been a whole different story, I just thank god daily that it was found and was treatable.