I was diagnosed in 2008 when I was 54. I had been complaining to doctors for years about various symptoms but I was never sent for tests – not even a bowel screen – until I started bleeding from the rectum.
Unlike many people, I had severe symptoms for some time before I got my diagnosis. For four weeks during the time of seeing my doctor and being diagnosed I had very bad stomach pains and was completely unable to eat.
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 37, totally unexpected at such a young age.
The only real experience I’d had with the disease was watching my grandfather live with a colostomy bag after the removal of his bowel when I was a child. But I no longer consider this an ‘old man’s disease’.
Who would have thought that giving blood could lead to a diagnosis of bowel cancer? I certainly never did. In early 2009, I went along to my local blood bank to make a donation and was told I was anaemic.
I saw my GP who is, thankfully, very proactive and sent me for a range of tests to identify the cause of the anaemia.
When Maureen received a screening kit in the mail just after her 55th birthday, she had no reservations about doing the test.
“It was just too simple not to do. The test was hygienic, quick to complete and extremely straight-forward,” she said.
Just as well, because ultimately this unusual birthday present saved her life. When the test returned a positive result, Maureen was not overly concerned as she had read in the accompanying booklet that the presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer.