Since turning 40 over 26 years ago I have had an annual medical each October together with the various tests ordered by my GP. It was a when I turned 60 that following my annual check-up my GP contacted me to advise that my Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) had returned a positive result. A subsequent colonoscopy confirmed that I had a large lesion in my rectum.
Being from Bundaberg, a city in regional Queensland, my GP referred me to a colorectal surgeon in Brisbane. Following examination and tests I underwent surgery in December 2005 for a lower anterior resection, including the creation of a J pouch and the provision of a temporary stoma. I recall my surgeon advising me late one evening whilst recovering in hospital the “good” news — I had a Stage 2 adenocarcinoma with clear margins at the resection and no evidence of metastatic disease — however the “bad” news cancer was present in one of 13 lymph nodes. That night I chose not to ring my wife with the “news” and waited until early the next morning.
One month after surgery I commenced 16 weeks of Fluro 5 chemotherapy (no suitable trials were open) through a PIC line and one month after completing chemotherapy I had my stoma reversed.
The most important thing to me on my journey was the wonderful support and encouragement I received from my wife, family, friends and medical staff. There were some downsides during my journey such as waiting for test results and not having a Care Plan provided or available. Current downsides are bowel function, neuropathy and “chemo-brain”.
I joined the AGITG Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP) when it formed in 2008 and I am privileged to be the current chair of the CAP.