In September 2010 I got a little sick, had some gastrointestinal cramping, weight loss, small amounts of blood during bowel movements and runny poo (remember I live in China though, I don't remember what a normal poo is). Tim and I were performing in schools in southern China and so at the time I just put it down to dodgy dumplings.
From October to December I was busy building a science communication empire with my best mate Tim. We were quite famous in Beijing and our egos grew accordingly.
On 3 January 2011 I flew from Beijing to Melbourne to sort out my Chinese visa and have a colonoscopy as the cramping and bleeding had continued off and on since September. The colonoscopy revealed a lesion in my sigmoid colon and pathology revealed that it was a malignant adenocarcinoma (malignant means cancer; adenocarcinoma is the medical term given to a tumour that begins growing in a cell layer that produces mucous - the colon has lots of these cell types). I had bowel cancer.
A CAT scan (the time-portal machine to the right) revealed no other tumours around my colon or in my liver or lungs. The doctors were particularly interested in the lungs and liver because these are common places that colon cancers spread to.
Knowing that we only had the one tumour to worry about what a huge relief.
A floppy sigmoid and a greedy tumour meant that it had grown outside the bowel wall and attached to the rectum. Because of this I had radiochemotherapy, major open surgery, a loop illeostomy and then four months of adjuvant chemotherapy.