i have tried to avoid cuss words here, even though i am a potty mouth at the best of times.
warning: post will contain bowel related grossness. and from here forward, bowel related grossness is going to become a Thing. soz.
but fuck it. fuck pretty much everything.
i got the diagnosis last night. despite what everyone has said, over and over again, it’s cancer. it’s a secondary cancer, with a suspected primary bowel cancer. it’s all wheels in motion: a colonoscopy on tuesday (monday is when the bowel specialist comes back), and once they’ve found the little shithead, they’ll know what treatment path to go down. it’s a magical mystery tour through my guts, to find where the cancer is hiding. HURAH. i’m also having a pelvic ultrasound (gross, i hate them so much) to make extra sure it’s not ovarian cancer – a very tiny risk, because i’ve been checked in both the CT and abdominal ultrasound and both came back clear. i am referring to this search as the magical mystery tour.
i actually have no idea how to feel about this. i have no idea how to process this, or what to do, or how to do it, or how to move forward, or how to think about anything other than the fact my body has cancer in it and i had no idea.
for context: i have suffered IBS my whole life. all of the symptoms of bowel cancer are covered under that gross heading – the seriously sad poos of deep abiding sorrow, the crippling pain that starts in your stomach and runs down your inner thighs, and causes you to vomit and pass out … these have always been my experiences of the grand beast that is my lousy rotten digestive system, since i can remember.
so, you know, it’s almost not a surprise it is bowel cancer, you know? it’s always been a rotten piece of shit (LOLOL) and it looks like that’s manifested in a particularly violent manner.
it makes little sense, though – there’s no sign of it spreading anywhere else, i Still have no symptoms of a cancer that’s at that point, because i feel completely fine – no weight loss (apart from anxiety over all this), no pain (other than usual IBS stuff), no real firm indications of anything that would have suggested this has happened. the doctors are all shocked, and confused. my stomach has been poked and prodded repeatedly for years. how can it have cancer in it? the CT scan showed nothing (though it doesn’t scan the bowel). doctors know this stuff. but doctors also told me it wasn’t cancer. repeatedly. with confidence.
today, i’m feeling less terrified than last night. i’ve had a chat to the nurse at the clinic who reassured me, that as gross as what i’m about to start is going to be, there are a lot of options. Bowel cancer is not the end of the world, and there are heaps of treatment plans. it’s not going to be a fun six-twelve months, but there’s a lot they can, and will do, to get me to the other side of it all. it is, strangely enough, better than a primary liver cancer. how about that, then.
i am getting a lot of STAY POSITIVE. i feel gobsmacked though. not positive. in shock. not positive. completely unable to know how to deal. not positive. i guess positive comes later. i think i might have a nap, because i feel overwhelmed.
i get anxious now that every tiny thing is a SIGN. sleepy? SIGN OF CANCER. no, it’s a sign that i am emotionally exhausted and fighting off a depressive episode. headache? i always get tension headaches. i probs don’t have a brain tumours. spasms? no, you idiot, it’s not muscle cancer. what the ? really?
and so on. i don’t want to go here. i don’t want to go into this place that scares me, and i am not feeling ready to start walking here. but it is where i am, and i start here. which is where i am. and i will accept it, i will keep going, and what will happen will happen.
but if i can just emphasise one thing: people, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE get regular, detailed check ups. find a GP who will listen to you. be overcautious. i have stage three cancer and my doctors all had no idea. i look healthy. my liver functions fine. my IBS covered any bowel symptoms. a bowel screen came back negative. i haven’t lost heaps of weight, and had been training with a personal trainer. apart from the nausea, i was feeling completely fine. keep a close relationship with your GP, and work with them. notice small changes in your body. listen to it. listen to your instincts. if they refuse you tests, find a GP who will write the referrals. you can start in the public system – it has its limitations, but it is where this started for me – and they were the first people to identify it as a secondary.
doctors are not gods. they don’t know all the answers. but they know more about it than i do, and i have to trust that, even after the numerous nasty errors.