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At the age of 15, Sherie Hagger was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. She knew that this diagnosis put her at a higher risk for Bowel Cancer but never thought she would have to worry about that until MUCH later in life. Unfortunately, Sherie was wrong. In her short life she has already navigated so many life challenges and through it all one thing remains, her courage, determination and dedication to spreading awareness...
In 2013 I moved houses twice in the space of three months. I had a falling out with my house mate of four years, who was also my best friend, and it completely shattered me. I bought my very first home, which should have been an exciting time for me, but it was bittersweet. I felt forced out of my living environment and lost my best friend, but I now had my own little home to call my own, only 5 minutes from the beach – my favourite place in Adelaide!
I had also taken on a temporary new role at work. So when my Crohn’s started flaring up, I put it down to the stress and emotions of moving house, buying a home, starting a new job and losing a dear friend.
However, when my Crohn’s medication and a stint in hospital on IV cortisone didn’t help alleviate my symptoms, I started to think something more sinister was going on.
My biggest issue was bloating. My friend was 6 months pregnant at the time and had sent me a photo of her baby bump. My tummy looked exactly the same, except I definitely wasn’t pregnant! I tried everything to help ease the bloating, but nothing worked. It was so uncomfortable and the pain associated with it was only getting worse. Even drinking water was causing issues!
I stopped eating and drinking and became very fatigued and malnourished.
I was still working full-time and it would take me 2 hours to get myself up and ready for work in the morning, I would struggle through the day and then fall into a heap when I got home. I had no life, I was using all my energy to work and then used the evenings and the weekends to rest and recover and then do it all over again.
It got to the point where I’d had enough and begged for a colonoscopy. I woke from that procedure and the look on my gastroenterologist’s eyes told me what I had feared – it was looking like cancer, but he needed to send the biopsy off for testing first.
I was sent straight to hospital and was put into a shared ward with three older men.
I have always been a big believer in hope – because without hope, we have nothing.
I held onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, it was benign. Maybe it was scar tissue from previous surgeries related to Crohn’s Disease. It was going to be fine.
It was getting late and we hadn’t received any results from the biopsy so I told my parents to go home. They would have probably been in the carpark when my gastroenterologist came to my room, I thought about calling them to come back upstairs to the ward, but still thought everything would be fine. Then my specialist confirmed it was cancer. I was on my own when he told me, and I broke down. I have never been so upset and so shocked in my whole life. I still didn’t call my parents back, I decided to let them have one more sleep before I turned their world upside down.
The days following my diagnosis are a blur. I ended up having surgery a couple days later and was discharged a few days before Christmas. Between the Christmas and New Year period, I deteriorated badly. I ended up needing emergency surgery on New Years Eve and rang in the new year in intensive care. It was a pretty accurate beginning of how the year 2014 would pan out for me.