It had been a long six years but last week Shepparton’s Cathy Rose was given the all clear after being diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2011.
An administration officer at Goulburn Valley Health’s specialist consulting suites, Ms Rose said it had been because of her knowledge of bowel cancer symptoms that first prompted her to seek help.
‘‘Because I work in health I knew what to look for,’’ she said.
Ms Rose said it was simply a change in her bowel habits that raised the alarm and she immediately went to see her GP.
After initial tests showed nothing, Ms Rose persisted and had a colonoscopy, which revealed she had stage-two rectal cancer.
‘‘I was lucky to have found it when I did,’’ she said.
Ms Rose had surgery to remove the tumour where she was given a temporary ileostomy bag for five weeks.
‘‘After my surgery, once everything had settled down, they booked me in for chemotherapy,’’ she said.
Receiving treatment in Shepparton once a week for six months, Ms Rose was fortunate to gain the expertise of GV Health clinical oncology director Zee Wan Wong, who came on board in 2012.
‘‘At first there were no oncologists,’’ Ms Rose said.
‘‘(Dr Wong) has been a god-send; I was so pleased when she started here.’’
Ms Rose also sang the praises of the nurses who administered her chemotherapy at the Peter Copulos Wellness Centre at GV Health in Shepparton.
‘‘The nurses... who were doing my chemo were just beautiful,’’ she said.
And just six weeks after her surgery, Ms Rose was able to return to work, but it was not an entirely easy road after her treatment.
‘‘You do get what we like to call ‘scan-xiety’,’’ she said.
For the past five years Ms Rose has attended regular appointments and scans to make sure the cancer had not returned, each time experiencing the fear it had.
But on June 13, Ms Rose received the all-clear after her initial diagnosis on July 29, 2011.
‘‘It was a double-whammy,’’ she said on how she felt receiving the news. She felt relieved it was finally all over, but looked to a future without receiving constant care.
Now, Ms Rose said she had become a champion in building awareness of the cancer.
‘‘It’s not just an older person’s disease; it can affect anyone at any time,’’ she said.
‘‘If you notice any change in your toilet habits — anything that feels different, any blood, or a change in frequency — go and see your GP.
‘‘The treatments are getting better and better; it is curable if its detected early.’’