The first sign of the bowel cancer was that I had a little bit of bleeding when I went to the toilet. I thought it might be polyps, but when it became more frequent and heavy, I decided to go to the GP.
My GP put me onto a specialist who used a little camera to have a look inside. I went to have a colonoscopy a week later. Right away, my doctor showed me a picture of a large tumour in my lower bowel.
The cancer was aggressive, so my medical team wanted to start treating it right away. They recommended a short course of radiation therapy followed by an operation.
I had a week of intense radiation therapy. I experienced some nausea, so I’d have to take some medicine for that about an hour afterwards. The treatment also caused some stomach upset.
Before the operation, I saw a stoma nurse who talked to me about what to expect. The surgeon planned to make a temporary stoma, but halfway through the operation, he saw that the tumour was all the way down the bowel and he had to make a permanent one.
I’m used to the colostomy now, but I have my up and down days. I feel self-conscious sometimes because I think the bag is noticeable under most fitted men’s clothing. Other people say it’s not noticeable, but I don’t wear the same things I used to.
I have learnt to live with the stoma. It took some time, but I worked out which foods went through easily.
Having a colostomy hasn’t stopped me travelling – I’ve been able to holiday in Bali a couple of times.