I experienced some family stress almost 5 years ago so I decided to visit my GP for a check. My GP told me I was anaemic so I just told him to give me some iron tablets.

His response was to give me a stool test . I had never had problems with my bowels and told him so. They had been regular, no signs of blood, good colour and texture, nothing seemed wrong. However one stool came back with blood in it and my GP made an appointment with a specialist.

I had no intention of keeping my appointment because I believed my doctor was wrong. I was not about to pay for a very expensive specialist when I considered I wasn’t sick. However, because a friend told me the hospital had no funds I then informed my GP to book me into the local hospital and I would wait the 5-7 months if necessary. I had no medical insurance, but I was prepared to pay $3500.00 to a private hospital if I really was ill.

The specialist gave me an option of paying $690 for a colonoscopy privately which would tell whether it was urgent or whether I could wait 5 -7 months. He phoned me at 7.30pm the same night to say I had stage 1 bowel cancer and I would be in hospital in 3 weeks. My reply was to say if I was sick I would pay. He said I don’t have to because it was urgent . I had keyhole surgery, no bag, and spent 10 days in hospital.

I have now had blood checks every 3 months, then every 6 months, my last one being due now in June 2018. On 30th December 2018 it will be 5 years ago.

It goes to show how easily bowel cancer can be missed and I want to tell my story for that reason.

No pain before, no pain during, and no pain afterwards.. How very lucky I am thanks to my concerned GP who saved my life and an excellent surgeon in Tauranga hospital… Thanks a million.