Three years ago I found a lump in my breast. A totally unexpected find. Back then, if you said I was going to be hit with the cancer stick sometime in my life I would have bet my money that the first strike would be bowel cancer. My early life on white bread and mushy vegetables and a deep rooted love of red wine and bacon would one day catch up with me.
In fact, three years ago I was about to ask my GP if I could have a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy because of some symptoms I had been having, combined with my family history of digestive issues such as diverticular disease and cancer. But breast cancer jumped in and stole all the limelight.
So since I got all that early breast cancer lark out of the way (with the exception of monthly injections, daily medications and two more surgeries ahead), I’m getting back on track with my quest for chasing the illustrious pot of health at the end of my rainbow. You see, a year ago I put myself out to pasture and it’s time I pull myself out of that paddock and stop with all that rich lucerne grass and start doing some serious work on the physical me.
I’m starting with task one tomorrow. A check up on the health of the insides of my digestive system with a Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy. (Aka GoPro Oesophagus/Stomach and GoPro Bowel).
I’m not worried about having a camera inserted in my mouth and up my butt. I’m looking forward to the surgical theatre chatter and the anaesthesia. It’s been a while!
Cancer Australia estimated over 17,000 new cases of bowel cancer would be diagnosed in 2015. That’s second place in the cancer occurrence stakes, smack bang between prostate (for males) and breast cancer in incidence. Bowel cancer is highly curable when detected early.
The most common symptoms of bowel cancer are:
- bleeding from the rectum (this may be noticed as blood in the stools).
- symptoms of anaemia.
- a change in bowel habit (loose stools or constipation).
- abdominal pain or cramping.
- weight loss.
- unexplained tiredness or fatigue.
Of worthy note, breast cancer survivors have an increased chance of subsequent colon cancer two times above the level of risk in the general population.
So this morn I woke up and prepared a glass of Picoprep. This bowel emptying solution can be purchased from any pharmacy for about eight dollars. It will also come with a knowing grin from the pharmacist, a grin that speaks of the atrocity that awaits you.
After school drop off, I drank my first sachet and I can only describe it a glass of warm urine from the body of a bloated, rancid, dead camel. You know, the kind that has spent a week lying in the Outback Australia sun.
Don’t be fooled by Picoprep’s attempt to camouflage itself as a glass of milk. It’s #hideous #vile #foul.
Today of all days, when I had to drink not one, but TWO glasses of this travesty, a highly anticipated new cafe opened up in my street. Normally, I’d be their first customer. Not today. Today, I was stuck with a clear liquid diet, free of dairy, and had to hover around the toilet at the ready. I can say that today, I may have pooped out things I ate back in 1989, the year Taylor Swift was born.
Thank the lord tomorrow is the procedure day, for after that, I’ll be down the road loving that new cafe in no time!
**Interestingly, Instagram already had the following hashtags about Picoprep #picoprepihateyou #picoprepcanstickit. So it would appear I’m not the only one to be totally distraught by this.
Today is the day I get my GoPro on. Think of this pleasant scenario… camera mounted at the end of a selfie stick capturing some youthful, sun-drenched, white teethed, twenty somethings while they satisfy their hedonist little hearts doing some ultimate outdoor experience.
Sure, I’m not a twenty something and my teeth are not white. But today, I would still love to be doing a spot of GoPro’ing in Norway…
Or a GoPro sesh while launching myself off this cliff here..
Unfortunately I won’t be filmed jumping around with reckless abandon today. For today is the day my pelvis gets an inspection with a one of the earliest versions of a GoPro stick, aka laparoscopic procedure.
After 14 months of pelvic symptoms, five dildo cams, (the GoPro Vag version) and countless consults with my oncologist, an oncological gyne and a gyne/obstetrician, in a few moments the experts are going IN to diagnose what is going on inside my mutant pelvis.
It is hoped this will explain why I have been miserable with pain since I ingested 623 Tamoxifen tablets between ending my active treatment and today. This GoPro procedure might result in coming out of surgery with an ovary or two less, amongst other things.
Anyone who thinks that the fortunate cancer patients who get to remission should be walking around peachy creamy all the time is naive. Most of us are the walking wounded. Some are better at hiding it than me, hiding the burden that living each day with the fear of recurrence or metastasis brings. Grappling with very real post treatment side effects. For the legacy of cancer manifests in quite a deteriorating quality of life, even when you are deemed ‘healthy’. This is particularly common for younger women who are treated for breast cancer. It is hard, the comparison of the old life with the new. And sadly, we are expected to be grateful for the second chance we have been given. But it ain’t that easy.
I’m so blasé towards this surgery that I’ve come to the big smoke on my own. In part to shield my partner and kids from another surgery. When you’ve had multiple major surgeries to remove cancer and body parts, every other non cancer related surgery seems like a walk in the park.
So at this moment, I’m just waiting for my bowel prep and my visit with the anesthetist so we can get this expertly conducted GoPrOvary procedure started. I hope they get some good diagnostic footage. It could make some excellent YouTube viewing.