In February 2014 I visited my local GP to seek advice for severe abdominal pain that I had been living with for close to a year. After many tests, including CT scans, Ultrasounds and blood tests, my Doctor recommended a colonoscopy which detected a large and advanced tumour. Within a week of having a colonoscopy I was scheduled for urgent surgery. My Bowel Surgeon and Endoscopist believe the tumour had been present for close to 4 years, as it had metastasized and attached to other organs. At 43 years of age, and a busy Mother of 4 sons, I was diagnosed with a T4 Bowel cancer. This came as a huge shock to myself, my family and also my community,as I was the elected Member for Carrum at the time.
I was impressed with our terrific medical system, and my team of Endoscopist, Surgeon and Oncologist provided a high level of care at a time that I was overwhelmed and at my most vulnerable. Within three weeks of surgery, I began a 6 month course of chemotherapy with Dr Andrew Strickland as my Oncologist. I was fortunate to have access to a chemotherapy treatment that was effective and successful - every fortnight I had three days of chemotherapy via a port. The option of having chemotherapy inserted in hospital, then being able to leave and continue having chemotherapy through a pump meant that I could continue to care for my family, to stay in work and to also contribute to my community.
I was impressed with all levels of the medical profession that I had assistance and advice from including Oncology Nurses, my Oncologist, and the support service that Bowel Cancer Australia and the Cancer Council of Victoria provided online and via phone advice and support. Receiving treatment for cancer is such an emotional roller coaster, as there is a real fear of the unknown and whether treatment will be successful. Throughout my treatment I met many people of all ages that were also touched by cancer and bowel cancer, all at different stages of treatments and differing prognosis. I was fortunate for my chemotherapy to have been successful at this stage, however I am aware that advanced bowel cancer patients have to access targeted drugs that are expensive, and often find it difficult to access new medications and drugs. This can be a huge frustration, and as Bowel cancer statistics are rising, it should be an area that is more accessible and affordable.
I am now privileged to be an Ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia and promoting awareness and support for this organisation.
Ambassador - Bowel Cancer Australia
For more information on Bowel Cancer please visit their website: