Malcolm's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 66, QLD)

My story and journey started in June 2016 when diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer that spread to the lymph nodes in my pelvis, with secondary metastasis within my liver. I felt at first an emotional numbness, followed by fear and a list of what ifs!

I had two major surgeries. In one of the surgeries, they removed a 1.2-kilogram malignant cancerous tumour from my stomach that had just about closed off my top from my bottom bowel. I was rushed into emergency surgery on a Sunday night and within two hours I was undergoing surgery. The surgeon told me the next day that had I not had the surgery when I did, I would have died within 48 hours.

The second major surgery was to remove 3 tumours from my liver that was evident after a CAT/PET Scan. First, I had to undergo 6 months of chemotherapy followed by liver resection surgery. After that, I went through a 2-month recuperation followed by a further 6-months of chemotherapy that was stopped because the therapy was affecting the rhythm of my heart and my blood pressure had reached 199 over 107.

I was hospitalized for 5 days until they got my heart and blood pressure stabilised.

Probably about 10 years prior to being diagnosed with colorectal cancer I often experienced bouts of constipation and diarrhea and had blood in the stool, which was often accompanied by severe stomach cramps and fevers. Many times, I had bouts of unexplained fatigue, tiredness and anaemia and spontaneous vomiting.

My wife would tell me to go and see our family doctor. Being an alpha male, I just kept postponing the inevitable. I was not comfortable with a doctor inserting his finger into my anal passage.

Another 5 years passed, and my condition grew worse until one day I had to go to the supermarket and the violent cramping pains became unbearable as did the involuntary urge to vomit. I was able to drive to my daughter's place which was 5 minutes away and as soon as I went through the front door gagging to hold the vomit in, I ran to the toilet. I vomited repeatedly for the next hour. After the vomiting subsided, I drove home with a raging fever. I knew that I had to go to the hospital and to be honest, I don’t even know how I drove there.

The initial medical examination was that I had some type of stomach virus. They gave me antibiotics and sent me home after a few hours. I wanted to trust the judgment of the doctors, but I knew it was something more sinister. Over the next 2 months every time I ate, within minutes, I would vomit whilst suffering severe stomach cramps.

In 2 months, I lost around 12 kilograms. One Sunday night I became very ill with a raging temperature and consistent vomiting. Returning to hospital and after cancer marker tests they discovered the tumour in my stomach and within hours I was undergoing critical surgery. They removed 30% of my lower bowel. But I thank God that I did not require a Colostomy (or Stoma) Bag.

After my initial diagnosis, I made the decision to adopt a positive mindset in fighting cancer. I wasn’t going to let cancer re-define my identity. I now strongly believe after three years of treatment have passed, having a positive attitude and strong faith and an excellent Multidisciplinary Medical Team, I will win the various fights that cancer brings my way. I must remember that behind every dark cloud the sun is still shining. Dark clouds disintegrate, but the sun still keeps on shining. To quote Olivia Newton-John,

My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life."

Be encouraged!

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