When Amy was 15 weeks pregnant with her second child, and at just 38 years old, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
It all began when Amy opted for a harmony test, that could tell whether her child might have down syndrome or other complications.
“When I found out the baby was fine, there was relief that the baby was still okay. But then I knew that meant something was wrong with me”, said Amy.
Amy had a liver biopsy done where they found lesions in her liver. Later, Amy did a PET scan, and that’s when the news came through that she had stage 3 bowel cancer that had metastasised to her liver.
Amy’s diagnosis shattered her ideas of what the future may hold.
“But what do you do? When you’ve got the diagnosis, of course, you’re sad and you’re freaked out. You’re thinking about the future. And I think at that point you just hope it’s not that bad. It’s even harder when you have young kids”, Amy said.
Looking for support, Amy called Cancer Council on 13 11 20. However, after one appointment, the counsellor she saw retired and Amy chose not to seek further support.
When looking back on the importance of support throughout her experience, Amy now realises “I should have really done it myself but I think I was in denial about everything and using the excuse of being too busy, but that shouldn’t stop you.”
Following various tests including PET and CT scans, Amy began chemotherapy once a fortnight when she was around 16 weeks pregnant.
After giving birth to her son a month early, Amy went on to do more tests to see if her treatment was effective.
“They found that the cancer had shrunk – the chemo had completely disintegrated the tumour in my bowel, the primary”, said Amy.
A month later, she underwent surgeries to remove the left and right side of her liver.
Another round of chemotherapy and another surgery
After going through a second round of chemotherapy, Amy noticed she was becoming sicker and sicker.
“I had to take days off work and I couldn’t function some of the day because I was just puking” reflects Amy.
Unfortunately, doctors were worried the primary cancer had started growing again, meaning more surgery was needed.
After parts of the bowel wall were removed, further tests revealed slight traces of cancer on her lymph nodes. This meant another round of chemotherapy.
“I didn’t really want to go through getting sick from chemo again. But this time, they gave me tablets, which turned out to be fine”, said Amy.
Despite going for a third round of chemotherapy, the mother of two couldn’t be stopped from exercising and playing netball.
It was only towards the end of her third round of treatment that she had to slow down when blisters formed on her feet and hands, but thankfully she was able to work through the side effects.
Getting tested early
If it wasn’t for the harmony test that Amy opted for during the earlier weeks of her pregnancy, she would not have known about the cancer.
Amy now gets tested every three months with the hope it stays away.
“I wouldn’t have known about the cancer without being pregnant because I had no symptoms. So, my little mate saved my life. If I’d left it longer, who knows what would have happened,” Amy added.
That’s why Amy wants others to know, “get tested, just bloody do it!”