So, how did I come to have incurable bowel cancer at 35 years of age you might be asking….Well, I have been asking myself that exact question since being diagnosed four days ago.To give you the background story I will start from when I first had bowel problems. About 5 months ago (August 2016) I visited my local doctor with pain in the left side of my abdomen. After numerous questions regarding diet and an examination, the pain was attributed to severe constipation. I was placed on a modified diet of low fibre foods and Metamucil which seemed to fix the issue. Little did I know that at this stage the cancer had already taken up residence in my large bowel. The doctor did not assume that I had cancer as I didn’t present the normal symptoms such as diarrhea or blood in my stool and I was only 35 years of age.
So life went on as normal, I was working full time, studying part time for my Bachelors Degree, volunteered with the local Country Fire Authority (CFA) and had just bought a house with my partner of six years. As the end of the year drew near I started to experience an increase in tiredness which saw my University grades slip and my volunteer participation become minimal. I assumed this tiredness was just from taking on too much, but as it turns out, this too was related to my cancer.
It all came to a head starting on the 30th December 2016 when I started to get chills, aching bones and joints and headaches. I though I may have come down with the flu or a bad cold. I persevered until the 4th of January 2017 by which stage I also had a fever, uncontrollable shaking and was vomiting. I finally went to the doctors who sent me straight to the emergency department of the closest main hospital (40 minutes from where I live). I spent a night in the emergency ward hooked up to drips and monitoring equipment as they tried to find out what was wrong with me.
Many of my symptoms pointed to atypical pneumonia which the doctors thought I had contracted from sweeping dried bird droppings. However I was severely anaemic which was not a normal symptom of pneumonia. So after many tests, scans, biopsies, questions and eight days in hospital, I was finally diagnosed with incurable Stage IV bowel cancer.
Just between you and me…..I think I prefer the first diagnoses!!