My name is Angel, I'm 37, married and mum to a 20-month-old little boy Hudson. I have stage 3b bowel cancer.
My symptoms first showed when I became pregnant with my little boy. I was 35, fit, healthy, basking in the joy of a much wanted first pregnancy which had come about after surgery to clear a complicated case of endometriosis......
This story is about my father who was diagnosed with bowel cancer three days before Christmas in 2010 and passed away just five weeks later.
Dad was a young 72-year-old – he was healthy and active, ate well, enjoyed long walks, wouldn’t hesitate to climb up on the roof if necessary, and had never even been to hospital – so his diagnosis was a shock. He had lost his appetite and begun to lose weight about a month before his diagnosis but his doctor didn’t think it was a problem; in fact, he thought it was good that he was losing weight, even though Dad wasn’t a big man. The GP had no idea.
In 2015, my brother Andrew was treated for diverticulitis, a condition when pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine become infected or inflamed. A few years prior, he ended up in hospital for over a week with symptoms including severe pain in the abdomen.
In 2016, the condition flared, and Andrew was treated with antibiotics, but the pain never really subsided. His doctor suggested he get an ultrasound.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 37, totally unexpected at such a young age.
The only real experience I’d had with the disease was watching my grandfather live with a colostomy bag after the removal of his bowel when I was a child. But I no longer consider this an ‘old man’s disease’.