I think I need to go to hospital, I said to my wife as I struggled to walk the three metres from the kitchen to the dining table with my son’s birthday cake.

I had been ill over the past weeks with what I thought was the flu, but it the crippling stomach pains which finally stopped me.

My name is Rowan Tierney and this is my story of how I’m dealing with incurable cancer.

This doesn’t happen to people like me, I’ve thought constantly over the past two years.

I have always played sport, eat a varied diet of fresh foods which I cook at home, never smoked and rarely drink.

I am young, educated and employed with great support networks in family and friends but cancer doesn’t discriminate.

The world has seen a rise in the number of young people being diagnosed with bowel cancer and I just happen to one of the fortunate ones.

February marks a number of important dates for people including Valentine’s Day and the end of the summer holidays for school students – I’m a school teacher so it’s the end of my free time as well.

However, to me it was 12 months since I was cut open to have a piece of my right lung removed in the hope of curing me.

For someone who has never broken a bone or required more than a check-up, I have spent more time in hospital than my ageing grandparents.

I’ve dealt with side effects from chemotherapy and surgery such as nausea, stomach complaints, taste changes, numbness in fingers and toes, scarring, weakness as well as a nasty infection from the port insertion.

And yet I am lucky.

Throughout the whole experience, I have had incredible support from a range of people.

I continue to work full-time at school.

I still get to spend plenty of time with my wife and young children.

Our backyard was transformed through the generosity of the community while I was recovering from my liver surgery.

I have an amazing medical team whose patience and compassion are my inspiration.

But most importantly, I have hope.

Hope, that I will be the last generation to die of cancer as medical science continues to make amazing breakthroughs made possible by the generosity of everyday people.

This is why I support the Relay for Life because for me personally, it may mean the chance of life.

Everyone deserves a chance at that.

– Rowan Tierney

Bendigo Relay for Life – March 29/30 Backaus Oval Golden Square.

To register or donate visit
www.bendigorelayforlife.org.au
or phone 1300 656 585