Prior to her diagnosis in 2006, my wife’s concerns about her health were dismissed as a trivial condition because her only symptoms were occasional and very slight rectal bleeding.
Each time she raised her concerns with her GP, the GP thought the bleeding was related to other things such as beetroot (we ate a lot of vegetables) or haemorrhoids. However after insisting, her GP finally ordered a colonoscopy which showed my wife had late stage bowel cancer, with metastases in the liver and lungs (stage 4).
I’ve seen the effects of bowel cancer first hand and know I never want to go through it. My Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2000. He was just 49 years old. He had had some rectal bleeding and back pain so went to the GP who sent him for a colonoscopy.
After this plus scans and blood tests, Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer which had spread to the liver. He had successful surgery to remove the cancer from the bowel but when the surgeons opened him up to remove the tumour from his liver, they discovered it had wrapped around the aorta so removal wasn’t possible.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 after experiencing changes to my bowel habits over approximately 2 months, which was followed by abdominal pain. This led me to my GP who thought the stomach upsets were nothing serious so prescribed a reflux medication and sent me on my way.
I soon returned to my GP after experiencing rectal bleeding, when he then referred me for a faecal occult blood test immediately.
I was six months pregnant with my first baby when I started experiencing blood in my stool. I talked to my obstetrician, who said that a little bleeding can often happen during pregnancy but that the amount I was experiencing sounded a little suspicious. She referred me to a gastroenterologist and I decided to wait until after my baby was born to book the appointment.