I trusted my intuition, and found I had bowel cancer

Last updated 11:08 21/09/2016

The hospital sent me home but I knew something was wrong, writes Renee Wallace.

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It was a lovely April day when I had a pain develop in my left lower abdomen, quite low down.

It was so bad I couldn't walk. The next day I saw my GP, who sent me to Accident and Emergency on the proviso they could do blood tests and have the results back quickly for further action.

I spent eight hours at the ED, with no explanation other than I had a low white cell count, which apparently showed I had an infection. I had a slightly raised temperature and about 8.30pm I was admitted for the night and moved to a ward, so I could have an ultrasound in the morning.

* 'I'm 26, I have cancer and I'm dying'

* Farewelling my mother in the winter of her life
* Cancer has given me time to say goodbye

Morning came. Doctor did his rounds. I had minimal pain on palpation of my lower left abdomen so was discharged. I was told that as a fit and healthy 38-year-old I fitted into none of the pre-defined categories for any specific problem or disease.

I was told "Please come back to A&E if the pain represents itself". So off home I went.

I knew something was wrong. With the help of my GP I was referred for a private ultrasound under our health insurance.

This is where I thank my lucky stars that we had health insurance, as I well and truly needed it now.

The radiologist performing the ultrasound found something but couldn't determine exactly what it was. There was no differentiation between my bowel and my ovary. After consultation with my GP and another doctor, it was decided I needed a CT scan to see what was there.

Well, there was no ignoring the picture the CT scan presented us with. There was a large tumour in my bowel. It was almost causing a blockage.

This is where I am again grateful for insurance. Within the next few days I was booked in for a colonoscopy, which provided the doctor with some information about what was there. A few days later I was booked in for surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from my bowel.

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At age 38, I had bowel cancer. I fit into none of the national criteria for bowel cancer, and I had no symptoms, except for my one day of pain. But I knew something was wrong and I'm so glad I followed my intuition to be checked out.

Yes, it was horrendous to have someone playing with parts of you that no one likes to talk about. Yes, it was embarrassing sometimes to talk about things like poo with a doctor you had only just met. Yes, it was scary being told you have bowel cancer!

Now I have had surgery to remove the tumour, along with 30cm of bowel. I had some lymph node involvement so am having an eight-round course of chemotherapy to make sure nothing was left behind.

So my mission now is to beat this bowel cancer, and also to alert everyone that even though you might not show symptoms, if you think something is wrong, please get it checked out.

It might be nothing, it might be something more serious. And, if your budget allows, please think about investing in health insurance. If I had to wait on the public waiting list there is no guarantee I would be here right now. With insurance, from CT scan to surgery was less than two weeks.

Now, get on with living life to the fullest every day. You just don't know what tomorrow will bring.

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