Robert's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 50, WA)

In 2014 I received my first National Bowel Cancer Screening Program kit as I had turned 50. I put off doing the test for some time because I had none of the symptoms so thought I did not need to do it. My wife convinced me to do the test and thank goodness I did because shortly after sending it away I received the news that I had a positive result. It was a huge shock.
My GP then referred me to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. During the scope they found a cancerous polyp, so I was then referred to a surgeon and within a couple of weeks I was in hospital having the cancerous polyp removed.
The surgeon removed 40 cm of my bowel to successfully remove the cancerous polyp and lymph nodes for testing. The operation was a success and I did not need a stoma.
I was up and showering approximately 12 hours after the operation. I was quite sick at the end of day 2 as my digestive system was starting to work again. I was out of hospital in 3.5 days which my surgeon told me was because I was 'young, fit and healthy'. Unfortunately one of the polyps was suspect so I was put on 6 months chemotherapy. It is now over a year since my chemo and I have been re-scanned, had blood tests and another colonoscopy and I am clear of cancer.
During my chemo treatment I still ate everything I did before the treatment but some foods affected me more than others. I could not eat cold food or drinks as it made my mouth tingle. I got good advice on how to manage my treatment from my oncologists and the chemo nurses.
Emotionally it was tough at the beginning but I soon got used to it. I felt as though I was incredibly lucky to be diagnosed early. It was a bit of an emotional time at times and I had to be strong for my family who were scared I was not going to make it.
My advice to anyone turning 50 is to do the free test. The hardest part of the whole process is fasting for the colonoscopy if you return a positive test! If you get a positive test be positive. It is amazing what can be done now and we are so lucky to have such a great health system with the dedicated staff and technologies. Don’t be afraid to seek help and advice and sharing your concerns are part of the healing process.
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