Jo's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 45, NSW)

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 44 years old.

I went to see my GP after about twelve months of changed bowel habits and intermittent rectal bleeding, which I assumed was caused by haemorrhoids.  The pain I had been experiencing on and off had become quite bad, so I wanted to talk to my GP about other treatment options.  I was given a colonoscopy as part of this visit – and that’s when they discovered the tumour in my rectum.

The doctors weren’t sure what stage the cancer was at when they first diagnosed it, or whether there was any lymph node involvement; but eventually I was told I needed surgery and, because of the location of the tumour, a permanent colostomy.  My initial reaction was one of horror: there was no way I was having one of those awful bags attached to me!  But I sought the advice of four specialists and they all told me the same thing.  I had no other option.

When I finally accepted that I had no choice, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I felt trapped.  But I had a good cry and eventually moved on.

I had surgery about 12 weeks ago and it was a success – no more cancer, and no need for chemotherapy, which I’m grateful for.  I’m healing well and, best of all, the colostomy bag is much easier to manage than I ever imagined.  It’s now part of my life and I just get on with things.  I’ve been very lucky to have the support of my wonderful husband, family and friends, and of my two little girls.

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