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.
I booked my colonoscopy but was going to cancel as I really felt it was a waste of time, and there was no family history of bowel cancer. But having already paid for the kit and my day hospital excess, I decided to go ahead.
After the colonoscopy, the doctor who carried out the procedure told me he was unable to complete the scope as he had found a large tumour and couldn’t get the scope past that point. I was told I was bordering on a bowel obstruction.
I was then referred to a specialist, who ordered another colonoscopy to place markers and a mono spot tattoo at the hepatic flexure. I had a CAT scan and blood tests.
At the end of the week, I underwent a subtotal hemicolectomy, and lymph node biopsies. I was told I had stage T3 No Mo.
I really feel I had dodged a bullet, my results came in, and the cancer was contained to my large bowel, my lymph nodes weren’t involved.
I now have regular blood tests, annual colonoscopies and CT scans, these will continue for 5 years from diagnosis.
After my surgery, I never felt well, had extreme weight loss, was rundown and tired and my hair was falling out, so I took myself to my GP. The doctor said I had just had surgery, and was still recovering from my operation, but did a blood test which showed I was anaemic and put me on iron tablets.
Six months after my colectomy, I started to haemorrhage from my bowel, and required a blood transfusion, and a colonoscopy to find the reason why, I was bleeding from the anastomoses, the bleed was cauterised.
I now feel great, I have put weight back on, and my life is continuing on as if this had never happened.
Look, as a side note, I used to get the bowel cancer screening kits in the mail, I felt at they were a waste of time and stuck them in the bottom draw in the bathroom. In hindsight, it was a bad mistake, as this very simple test may have picked up my bowel cancer much sooner.
I now advocate that everyone does this test, a little bit of inconvenience can be a life saver.