Bowel cancer is most common in those over 60 years of age. But youth is no defence against the disease, as Ashlin discovered at the age of just 25.
Ashlin - a young Perth girl - discovered blood in the toilet bowl during a holiday in Bali. Doctors originally told her she had irritable bowel syndrome and thought her too young for a colonoscopy. But the symptoms, now including stomach pains, worsened and Ashlin became more and more concerned about her health.
‘I knew my own body and I knew that something was wrong,’ she said. ‘I told my Mum that I thought I had bowel cancer’.
Eventually, after countless visits to her GP, Ashlin was referred for a colonoscopy which revealed 15 polyps in her colon. She was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
She underwent an immediate operation to remove part of her large colon, and was fitted with an ileostomy bag which was to be her constant companion for five long months. The next stage of the treatment was two three-month courses of chemotherapy; and during these, Ashlin began to feel the real emotional stress of dealing with a serious, potentially life-threatening disease. She lost 5 kg in under a week, developed ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, had a kidney stent inserted and punctured a lung.
Despite this, she became increasingly strong-willed and determined to recover from her ordeal.
Ashlin has now finished her chemotherapy treatment, and her prognosis is good. She has begun a fitness regime and has returned her job at a financial planning company in West Perth.
Ashlin’s surgeon, Dr Michael Levitt, found that the cancer wasn’t just localised rectal cancer and that it had spread to other parts of Ashlin’s body. ‘I’d call it a tumour with a bad attitude,’ he said.
‘She is doing beautifully and all known disease has been removed. She’s not done and dusted just yet because we know that, statistically speaking, she’s at risk of other microscopic deposits growing over time. But these haven’t yet appeared, so we are increasingly optimistic.’
Ashlin can now return to living the life she had to put on hold for almost a year. She is making wedding plans with her fiancé, Johnny and they plan to soon build a house. As a precautionary measure, Ashlin had three embryos harvested through IVF before her operation, and these remain safely frozen until she has a five-year cancer clearance.
Disclaimer:The information provided on this website is meant as a general guide only; and is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. If you have concerns about your health, please see your doctor.