Unlike many people, I had severe symptoms for some time before I got my diagnosis. For four weeks during the time of seeing my doctor and being diagnosed I had very bad stomach pains and was completely unable to eat.
When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 23 June 2011, I didn’t even ask what stage the cancer was at – I just wanted to know what I had to do to fight it.
My initial symptoms were rectal bleeding, a change of bowel habit and stomach pain. Eighteen months prior, I had started bleeding and had a colonoscopy which showed nothing. The last colonoscopy five years prior to that had showed a polyp and an unknown growth, neither of which were diagnosed as a cancer. There is no family history of bowel cancer on either side of my family either.
When Maureen received a screening kit in the mail just after her 55th birthday, she had no reservations about doing the test.
“It was just too simple not to do. The test was hygienic, quick to complete and extremely straight-forward,” she said.
Just as well, because ultimately this unusual birthday present saved her life. When the test returned a positive result, Maureen was not overly concerned as she had read in the accompanying booklet that the presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer.