I was 57 years old, and was feeling extremely well, much to my dismay putting on weight, going off to gym and Pilates, running a household and working part-time. I was beginning to experience bloating and my tummy felt quite distended at times. Initially I blamed the amount of lentils and beans in my diet. I had googled the symptoms and self-diagnosed myself with IBS. I tried all of the treatments, growing a Scooby and making kombucha tea and adjusted my diet, trying many of the over the counter medications. Nothing seemed to help.
I had to see my GP for a health check-up, and at the end of my appointment I asked her for something for IBS. She decided to rule out anything else, and sent me for a colonoscopy, and then an ultrasound to check my ovaries.
Was it not for me having a totally random check-up back in 1999, I would not be alive today. Still to this day I’m not quite sure what got me to go and have a check up as I was fit and healthy, but what happened next still amazes me.
My Gastroenterologist calls me the “luckiest girl in the world” as having that check up saved my life. Being told at 28 years old that had I not come in for a check-up I would have only had a couple of years to live was a huge wake up call for me.
So to me, raising bowel cancer awareness is not just some slogan to pass around and take lightly, it is my life.
I’d had stomach discomfort (bloating, occasional diarrhoea, cramping) on and off for a year or so, before seeing my GP. Looking back, I was also probably a bit more tired than usual however having only become a first time parent the year prior, I put a lot of my symptoms down to that. I was only 33 at the time.
After finally getting to the GP, further investigation showed I had blood in my stool. However, my blood tests apparently ruled out anything ‘sinister’, so I toddled off rather nonchalantly to my ‘precautionary’ colonoscopy.
I started to feel unwell during the latter stage of December 2014. I was often very tired, weak and had lost weight which I attributed to a lack of appetite due to erratic abdominal pain.
When I began experiencing an inconsistency in bowel habits I saw my GP and they thought I had a stomach bug. Despite treatment, my symptoms persisted and after more GP visits, a full round of tests were undertaken, resulting in a trip to Emergency for an iron infusion as my levels were critically low.