In April 2010, I suffered a huge amount of bleeding when I went to the toilet. I had no warning signs – it just happened out of the blue. It was so bad that I went straight to the emergency ward at the hospital. I think they thought it was just haemorrhoids so I was given a DRE (digital rectal examination) and the doctor took some blood and sent me home.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 47. I had taken a Rotary Bowelscan test (FOBT) and, when it returned a positive result in May, my GP referred me to a specialist. I was given a colonoscopy in June and told I had a 10 per cent chance of having cancer… turns out, I was in that unlucky 10 per cent! In July I had a bowel resection. Looking back, it all happened so quickly.
I felt I coped really well with the cancer at the time but I experienced more problems about seven years later. I suffered depression and was forced into medical retirement due to poor bowel control, all of which coincided with my father’s death. I think I just bottled up all my emotions, and it wasn’t until I finally saw my GP that I was encouraged to talk about my experiences.
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.