Matt Best, 39, was misdiagnosed with ulcers and acid reflux after complaining of stomach pain for seven years, but after blood tests doctors found a large tumour
A “fit and healthy” gym enthusiast was told his bowel cancer was acid reflux – only for doctors to find a tumour the size of a grapefruit growing across his large intestine.
Matt Best, 39, was misdiagnosed with ulcers and acid reflux after complaining of stomach pain for seven years, something he thought was caused by ‘overindulgence’ in alcohol and rich foods.
But he rushed to the doctors for a blood test after a gym session left him feeling “extremely weak”, and the results showed he was anaemic – an early warning sign of bowel cancer.
The Brisbane sales manager, who spends his free time walking with wife Amanda and their dog, Kali, told Daily Mail Australia : “I remember even asking my gastroenterologist at the time jokingly, ‘it’s not cancer, is it?’ And he said ‘at your age, highly unlikely’.”
Matt was told he had a 10cm tumour growing across his large intestine and in April 2018, doctors told Matt he had stage 3C bowel cancer.
“I was shocked, confused, numb, I had 4,000 questions,” Matt said.
“I remember just staring at a clock and not knowing what was happening.”
Matt, who was 36 at the time, was told the cancer had spread to the tissue and lymph nodes surrounding the intestine, but not to any nearby organs.
He was taken to hospital and doctors removed 30 of his lymph nodes – seven of which were cancerous.
Matt was then put on a six-month course of FOLFOX chemotherapy which brought him to hospital every second Friday, a process which left him feeling a “chronic hangover” of nausea and exhaustion.
He also suffered peripheral neuropathy, which causes pain, numbness and ‘pins-and-needles’ sensations in the limbs.
“I remember at Christmas my brothers thinking it was funny that I would constantly drop my beer bottle because my fingers would twitch from the nerve damage,” he said.
Matt, now 39, is cancer free and says he is “truly grateful to every friend and family member” for their help over the last three years.
He will continue having colonoscopies once a year to keep tabs on his stomach health.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and at least 16,000 Brits die from it every year. Matt believes it is important Brits visit their doctor and regularly discuss health concerns with friends.
“There’s still such awkwardness,” he said.
“I try to lighten the mood and tell them a joke I came up with, which is ‘When I found out I had bowel cancer, I was gutted….’ The response is always the same, only YOU can tell that joke!”
He added: “If it doesn’t feel right, get it checked! Better yet, don’t wait and have a regular check-up.”