I never thought this would happen to me - cancer at age 43.

Having been diagnosed with a bad bout of food poisoning on October 24, 2019, I began to vomit daily and have ongoing diarrhoea. I went on and off to the GP for several weeks as things would get better for a few days and then worsen. I then began to lose my appetite, weight and towards the end was overwhelmed with severe stomach cramping.

Finally, my normal GP (who I hadn’t been able to get into) said “I don’t like this let’s get some tests”. You see none of my symptoms were classic bowel cancer symptoms nor did I fit the age bracket, which is becoming increasingly common.

So, I completed my tests at the hospital to be sent home, only to receive a call from a lovely doctor the next day. “Look I have your scans, you have a blockage/growth we need to see what it is, come in Monday and see me and on Tuesday we will do a colonoscopy - it was with the calmness in her voice that I knew what this was.

So, Monday came around, I was booked in for my colonoscopy on Tuesday, which showed a growth so big the camera/scope could not get past/through it. A biopsy was taken. At the end the doctor said in her calm and caring voice, this needs to come out, needs to come out soon, and it will be next Wednesday, do not eat anything, liquid only, we can’t run the risk of your bowel perforating, and in my experience this is a cancer.

So scared, worried, concerned, I processed the information and worked out how to tell my family. On Wednesday I was admitted to hospital to remove my tumour.

The tumour was removed by keyhole surgery and had nearly completely obstructed my bowel. The biopsy results determined that it was a T4 tumour and in my lymph nodes, and classed as Stage 3 cancer, which will require chemo.

For me, I had no symptoms, this is not uncommon, and my “friend” had been growing there for many years undetected, happily co-existing with me, I hope my story encourages people to keep pushing for answers.

I am strong, I am mentally fit, it is what it is, there is someone always worse off - I tell myself this each day. Don’t be the person worse off, get tests, don’t put it off, seek answers and push, push until you have your answers or resolution, don’t wait, it is your health, it’s your life.