A Colon Cancer Diary

Wednesday 5 January, 2011 by Elena

September 2009

Started experiencing heavy periods. I was working part-time and feeling very tired after work. I noticed that the tiredness never went away, even after a long night's sleep I still felt tired.

October 2009

Still feeling tired, now starting to get heart palpitations. When the palpitations started I thought that it must be a reaction to stress and told myself to relax and take deep breaths. I didn't take this as a sign of anything and when I mentioned it to my husband he said to go to the doctor for a full medical.

At 45 I still hadn't had a full medical.

November 2009

Went to my GP and had full blood test, which revealed I was anaemic my iron level was down to 3 and ferritin down to 5. I then had the stool test which came back positive both times and was referred to a specialist colorectal surgeon.

At this stage I still thought I had a bad case of piles and delayed my colonoscopy so I could take a 10-day work trip with my husband. No-one in our family had ever had cancer and here I was 45 with 2 young children and believing how healthy I was to never go further than the local GP's office.

On my return the colonoscopy was performed and my surgeon immediately told me that I had colon cancer. It was in the sigmoid and he was unable to finish the colonoscopy because of the size. He called my husband into the recovery room and told him that it was colon cancer and that they had to schedule surgery and a CT scan.

The scan would tell us if it had spread. That following day was the worst day of my life telling my mother that I had cancer and other family members and then waiting for the CT scan. The CT scan came back showing no further growths.

December 2009

In hospital for the first time in my life to have cancer removed. Surgery went well and pathology showed colon cancer stage C1 with 4 lymph nodes involved. Hospital for 10 days attached to IV machine and small drainage bag. I was able to shower on my own and started fluids around the second day.

The nurses encouraged me to get out of bed by day 3 and walk around the ward. This was difficult at first but really did help with getting my bowels back into action and also a better sense of wellbeing. Just getting out of bed and moving made me feel more normal.

January 2010

Started chemo 3 days every 2 weeks. I never went back to work because the chemo treatment was very intensive and working with toddlers wasn't a good idea. Treatment continued for the next 6 months. I had lots of help from family and my husband during this time and was fortunate to have a very caring oncologist.

I was able to drive myself to hospital and still pick up my daughter from school. I think keeping to my normal schedule as much as I could also made it easier for my children to deal with my treatment.

June 2010

I started getting terrible tingling, first in my hands, and then my feet during my 11th treatment. The tingling and numbness in my feet started with surges from my calves down to my heels. The surges continued for 2 months until I was left with hardly any feeling from my toes to just below my knees. My hands were numb and my fingers felt like sausages.

It took 6 months before I could do buttons and zippers up.

November 2010

My periods started again with a vengeance. Is this normal? My period started, lasted 5 days, stopped back again in 15 days, and has continued in this pattern with breaks of 14 to 15 days.

January 2011

I still have neuropathy in my hands and worse in my feet. The oncologist believes it will get better over the year. Going for a D & C with gyno/onco next week to sort other problem that everyone believes is peri menopausal symptoms?

Regardless of what happens there I feel blessed and grateful that I am still here and try to remember each day is precious and I'm still able to be with my family. I haven't found another job and now home as a full-time mum. I feel blessed and grateful that I am still here and try to remember that each day is precious.

You may never know why these things happen to you. Is it genetic? Something you ate? Others will freely give their opinion on why or how you get cancer. In the end what matters is that you have survived and have the chance to live life with a new, better, perspective.

If you or anyone you know has bowel cancer you may find it helpful to call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 and speak with a cancer nurse. See also our information on screening for bowel cancer.

Updated: 05 Jan, 2011