I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 54. I had been feeling tired for some time and had been experiencing pain when I sat down, which I self-diagnosed as haemorrhoids and was treating with herbal cures. I eventually saw my GP after about three months when the pain still hadn’t gone away. The GP gave me a physical examination and sent me for a CT scan, which took a few days to schedule.
Within a week of receiving the results of the scan, I was referred to a colorectal surgeon and soon after had a colonoscopy, which was almost pointless because they couldn’t get the camera past the lump in my colon. More tests were ordered and my tumour was eventually diagnosed as stage 3.
I went to my GP in early 2009 complaining of tiredness and lethargy, rectal bleeding and a change in my bowel habits. But because of my age and the fact that I had recently given birth, I was given only a blood test and told that further investigation wouldn’t be necessary. The blood test showed low iron levels so my tiredness was put down to that.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer two years ago at the age of 23. I had been experiencing a range of symptoms for about five years, including rectal bleeding, mucous in my stools, diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps to changes in my bowel habits.
Coincidentally, my mother was also having these problems, so we were both seeing a doctor to try to discover their cause.
In 2007, the government sent out free bowel cancer test kits to a range of people and I did my test as soon as I received it. The results indicated blood in my samples and I was told to see my GP immediately. I wasn't overly worried at this stage because I had seen blood in my stools on and off for some time and had always put this down to taking iron tablets, which can cause dietary problems like constipation.
After my GP appointment, things started to move very quickly, with a colonoscopy, blood tests, injections, a CT scan, an MRI and visits to a specialist surgeon.