When did all of this start?
I found my bowel cancer in 2017 as an otherwise healthy 32-year-old. I had an 8-month-old baby, a busy work and life schedule and a bucket of plans and hopes for the future.
Did you have any symptoms?
I had lost weight quickly – but I was breastfeeding at the time and was told by many people that I looked fabulous and was SO lucky! I was also especially tired – pretty understandably as a new mum.
How did you find the cancer?
I didn’t feel right, and I trusted my instincts on this. Thankfully, so did my General Practitioner. We kicked off a campaign to find all of the things that could possibly be wrong with me – it only took us a week, via blood tests, then an ultrasound, then an MRI, to realise it was metastatic bowel cancer.
When did you start writing – and why?
I felt compelled to write about my cancer experience almost immediately. I did it for a couple of reasons:
- I have a journalism degree, but never thought that I had anything meaningful to write about. Cancer felt meaningful enough.
- I had been told I was dying, so honestly thought I was recording something that my son would use in future to get to know his Mumma, given he couldn’t know her personally.
- I had zero personal experience of cancer, so went looking for books to inspire and educate me. Unfortunately, I found a lot of writing about things that just didn’t resonate for me: curing my cancer with juice cleanses, curing my cancer with a belief in god, or succumbing to the fact that my cancer wouldn’t be cured at all. I needed an alternative narrative, so I created my own.
Isn’t bowel cancer an old man’s disease?
Bowel cancer is not a disease for old, unhealthy men. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. More than 15,000 Australian men and women, young and old, will be told they have bowel cancer this year. I am a young, healthy, active female. I love kale. I love the gym. Don’t assume that you are not in the risk zone. Anyone can get bowel cancer. You are never too young, old, fit, healthy or invincible.
How have you treated your cancer?
Chemotherapy. These drugs are harsh. Devastating to the body and devastating to cancer. I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to have the most chemotherapy I could have in order to beat my cancer. So I pushed. Through the nausea, the neuropathy, the hair loss, the brain fog, the memory loss, the shakes, the chills, the numbness, the vomiting, the diarrhoea, the despair and the defeat.
I kept going. I just had to.
I keep going. I just have to.
The chemotherapy made the surgery possible. And now, we focus on how we continue to make living possible.
Are you Cured?
One day 😉
What is the exercise about?
There is an abundance of scientific research that has proven exercise to be an essential medicine in the management of cancer. So much so, that Australian cancer organisations now recommend all people with cancer exercise regularly.
Research shows that people with cancer who exercise regularly have a lower relative risk of dying from cancer, a lower relative risk of cancer recurrence and they experience fewer and/or less severe treatment-related adverse effects.
Learn more about exercise and cancer here à http://www.exmedcancer.org.au