Bowel Cancer Diagnosis Leads to New Attitude

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.

Read about how Rob lives his best life with a colostomy and helps others do the same.

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:

  1. Listen to your doctor and stoma nurses. Rob learned this the hard way when he was told not to lift anything heavy but did so anyway. “This is really important, it may be the way I ended up with a hernia,” he says. “Be confident enough to put up your hand and say, I can’t do that, or I need help with this.”
  2. Take note of what your body needs. This is especially important when it comes to food and nutrition.
  3. Keep it simple. “Keeping my routine simple, being consistent with how I apply and remove my stoma bag, and keeping my skin healthy  – all of this helps with my comfort and confidence,” Rob says.
  4. Smile. “You never know what other people are going through,” he says. “A simple smile can make someone else’s day.”

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.”

People who provided testimonials received compensation from Hollister Incorporated. The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented are applicable to the people depicted. These testimonials are representative of their experience, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.