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Humans of POWH: Paolo

Paolo – Bowel Cancer Patient for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and we had the honour to interview Paolo who is currently receiving treatment for bowel cancer at Prince of Wales Hospital. His story is inspiring and even in the severity of the diagnosis at a young age, Paolo still has a positive outlook on life. He shares his story and experience on his social media @paolocattaneophoto and encourages men of all ages to keep engaging with their GP to get regular checkups.

Q1: How did you discover that you had bowel cancer?

A: I had no symptoms at all. I’m very active and I like to play sport. I ride motorcycles as a job.

I had just come back from living in Europe during the pandemic and was bleeding quite a lot and was sent to the emergency room at  Prince of Wales Hospital.

After that I was feeling fine, I wasn’t in any pain or shown any further symptoms. I was then consulted by Dr Goldstein (oncologist) and Dr Thompson (radiation oncologist) about the diagnoses and completed an MRI test which confirmed my cancer. It was a shock to hear that it was bowel cancer especially because I’m a very healthy and active person in my day-to-day life.

Q2: How has receiving treatment been for you so far?

A: Dr Goldstein and Dr Thompson discussed with me a new approach to treating bowel cancer which involved shrinking the cancer first instead of surgery to remove it initially. I started completing my rounds of radiotherapy and then started doing chemotherapy. It was rough at first (1.5 months of radiotherapy and chemo everyday) but now I only need to do one round every three weeks. I also take medication daily in addition to the treatment.

Q3: What is life like for you now? How has the diagnosis and treatment affected you?

A: It’s affected my day-to-day greatly. Other than affecting my mobility and diet, I tend to feel quite tired after a round of chemo. I’m unable to do all my usual active activities like swimming and running but every now and then I will still go out and ride.

Q4: What’s your advice to men or anyone who may be experiencing or could be experiencing what you’re going through?

A: People usually associate cancer with death, but they shouldn’t be scared of it. Since starting treatment I’ve seen many cancer patients from young children to old, so anyone can have cancer. Making sure you get regular checks from your doctors is important.

I’ve started sharing my story on my Instagram account. When I started to open up and be vulnerable about my story, people started messaging me saying they were going through the same thing. Having support and sharing my story helps others and I will continue to do that.