My bowel cancer was discovered through persistence and luck! I had experienced gastrointestinal issues for quite some time and these symptoms had previously been dismissed as "just IBS". After I pushed for more investigation, my doctors aged that an endoscopy and colonoscopy would be appropriate and this was how the cancer was detected. The diagnosis came as a surprise to medical professionals given my age, generally healthy lifestyle and having no family history of bowel cancer. In this case, following my gut and pushing for further testing and a definitive diagnosis meant that I am still alive today. The timing is where the luck comes in. I was extremely fortunate that the cancer had not yet spread to other parts of my body. I've come across far too many situations where this has not been the case for people and their outcomes have been very different. With this in mind, I would strongly urge everyone to follow your instincts, advocate for yourself and seek medical advice immediately if you are experiencing any health issues.
The experience has definitely left me with a strong sense of perspective, and I try not to get too hung up on everyday stressors. My husband was also diagnosed with cancer at age 33 (8 years prior to my diagnosis) so after supporting him through his
journey and then going through my own I honestly feel so lucky just to be here, together with our children. These experiences provided me with a personal understanding of the significant impact that health issues can have on the lives of an individual and their loved ones. It also illustrated the importance of having a thorough and supportive team of health professionals in your corner.
I've always been mindful of maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet and my diagnosis only emphasised the importance of this. I also try to keep my life as balanced as possible and exercise as often as I can.
There are so many factors that contribute to good health and lifestyle factors are a huge part of that, but it's important to remember that some things are also out of your control, which is why it's so important to act quickly when you feel something is not right.