Undergoing bowel cancer surgery and getting a stoma changed Rob’s outlook on life. He now educates others about early cancer signs and symptoms, and offers tips for living well with an ostomy.
Rob lives in Australia and has a tight knit family with his wife, three daughters, and grandchildren. It took all of them plus a friend to convince him to seek help when he experienced lethargy and weight loss. His doctor diagnosed him with bowel cancer and sent him for further tests to understand his treatment options.
Those options were: 1. cut out the part of his bowel with the tumour, meaning he’d have a permanent colostomy, or 2. only cut out the tumour, and then “hope and pray” that the cancer wouldn’t come back. Rob chose the first option. It took some time for him to get confident with his ostomy pouch, and he praises his stoma nurses for educating, advocating for, and encouraging him to take control and learn quickly.
Living life to the fullest – and educating others about cancer
Rob hasn’t let his cancer or his ostomy surgery negatively impact his life. He makes the most of every day, spending time with his extended family, continuing to play golf every weekend, and enjoying his job as a Safety Area Manager. Rob has used his contacts at work, and within the mining and construction industry, to create “Toolbox Talks” for employees about cancer and cancer prevention. He has also organised golfing fundraisers to support Icon Cancer Centres and Cancer Council Australia.
Rob’s talks include how to look for signs and symptoms of bowel cancer – such as blood in stools, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, and sudden weight loss. He also discusses the importance of using the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for early detection.
Rob’s tips for living well with a stoma
Family support helped Rob fight bowel cancer and accept the fact that he would live with a colostomy. He has advice for others on how to approach life with a stoma:
Having bowel cancer and getting a stoma completely changed Rob’s attitude about life, and he no longer takes it for granted. “I’ve realized that life can end so quickly,” he says. “And since I’ve had a second chance, I’ve made every day a winner.”
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