This story is about my mum’s ordeal with bowel cancer.
She was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 73, but her diagnosis had taken some time. Her rectal bleeding was initially thought to be haemorrhoids, and the GP gave her a cream to treat the condition, but the bleeding persisted and, when she finally had a colonoscopy two months later, they found advanced bowel cancer.
When I was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer in 2006, I was 45 years old.
I am a wife and a mother of three (now 23, 20 & 16 years old) and an office manager.
I had no family history of bowel cancer and I led a healthy lifestyle before my diagnosis, although I was told further along the process that I carry the HNPCC gene, which is a strong indicator of the disease.
I’d had rectal bleeding and unusual bowel habits for six to eight weeks before going to see my GP in 2008. I was 60 at the time. My GP gave me an internal examination but found nothing. Nonetheless, he was insistent that I see a specialist and made the call while I sat in his surgery, getting me an appointment for the very next day.
I had a colonoscopy within the week and was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer. I had a CT scan the next day, then an ultrasound for tumour staging.
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.
I was first diagnosed with a hernia, which seemed to explain the changes in my bowel habits and the stomach pains I had been experiencing.