Bowel Cancer Stories

My message to anyone reading this is to be persistent. If you feel there is something wrong, push your doctor to do something about it.
In Jan 2013 I visited my GP as I was experiencing stomach pains. The doctor decided it was probably related to certain foods in my diet so didn't carry out any investigations.

At the time I felt I wasn't being taken seriously because I was so young.

In February the pains became severe so I called an out of hours GP who suggested stomach ease medication and to see my GP for further investigation. The pain passed again that same evening.
I have always been conscientious with mammograms and pap smear tests so I believe if bowel cancer testing had been brought to my attention; I would have done it too.

My husband and I are in our early sixties and bowel cancer testing had never been mentioned to us through our family doctor and we had not been sent testing kits. At the time, inclusion in the testing kit program was based on your year and date of birth so we had both missed out. And since we had no history of bowel cancer in our families, it was never on my radar.

I have suffered from constipation periodically, ever since I was young, so I did not regard it as unusual. My father died of cancer in 1995 in the UK. He told me a few years earlier he had had some polyps removed but he had played down the seriousness of his condition when I spoke to him on the phone. I now know he eventually had open abdominal surgery but still not much more information than that. I had assumed his cancer started in his lungs because he was a pipe smoker.

No one ever told me he had bowel cancer – in the mid nineties I had never even heard of bowel cancer. I knew that my mother had Crohn's disease. When I had constipation, I thought I might have Crohn's too and believed there was no treatment to cure this apart from surgery so didn’t want a diagnosis. 

My whole world changed. It all began the day before commencing a set of nights in August 2015. I went to the toilet as usual and passed what I thought was a bowel motion which in fact turned out to be bright red blood. That was the turning point. I knew I needed to see a GP. This occurred on a Friday and so I booked an appointment to see a GP on the Monday morning straight after finishing my night shift. I felt like an idiot. "I’m perfectly well" I was said to myself, "I’m making this all up, the doctor is going to think I'm an idiot’. I did attend my appointment, definitely not my normal chirpy self, I couldn’t think clearly and the words just didn’t come out as smoothly as they usually did. I was tired, it had been a hard couple of night shifts in emergency. Maybe this was my problem, I was unhappy in my relationship, I was stressed about the wellbeing of my parents, work was tough and I lacked confidence in myself. Maybe these factors were contributing to my change in bowel habit? Hopefully.
Being diagnosed with bowel cancer is tough. You think you are going to die and you quickly start to re-think your bucket list!

The first indication I had a problem was with a bowel motion I had. When I looked in the toilet bowl, it was full of blood. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a photo as I was later questioned repeatedly about the quantity of blood I had seen. There was a lot of blood! I even called my husband to have a look!
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