I would recommend for anyone reading this to please listen to your body, take notice of your symptoms and get it followed up with your doctor. We all need to push to get looked at when we think there is a problem, because like me, there probably is.
For a couple of years I had experienced bowel changes, which I mentioned to my GP but I was told my symptoms were related to others things. I was tested for coeliac disease as my brother is a coeliac; however, no further tests were done.
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 had not been feeling well for a couple of months, tired, lost weight, feeling sick, and then I had 2 episodes of rectal bleeding, the second worse than the first. I went to my GP, after having done some research. I wanted a referral for a colonoscopy. My GP was initially hesitant to refer me on as he thought it was possibly only haemorrhoids, I knew this wasn’t correct. I had blood tests and I was referred to a general surgeon for a colonoscopy.
A week after the colonoscopy, the specialist looking after me told me I had bowel cancer low down in my bowel and it appeared the rectum was also involved. Arrangements were made for a flexible sigmoidoscopy and a CT scan.
When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 23 June 2011, I didn’t even ask what stage the cancer was at – I just wanted to know what I had to do to fight it.
My initial symptoms were rectal bleeding, a change of bowel habit and stomach pain. Eighteen months prior, I had started bleeding and had a colonoscopy which showed nothing. The last colonoscopy five years prior to that had showed a polyp and an unknown growth, neither of which were diagnosed as a cancer. There is no family history of bowel cancer on either side of my family either.
My story with bowel cancer began in February 2009 but if I’m honest, it began much earlier with symptoms of rectal bleeding and constipation which I didn’t follow up on with my GP. After my mum died, I went through a stage of not looking after myself; just lying on the lounge, eating way too much pizza and drinking excessively. I kept putting my symptoms down to haemorrhoids, bad diet and grief. My constipation was so bad I was twice forced to go to hospital. Scans were done but nothing showed up. On my third visit with constipation the pain was severe and this time they found a tumour which was causing a massive blockage in my bowel.
The hospital was great and they scheduled me for surgery immediately. My wonderful surgeon did a great job and the bowel resection went well. I was feeling great but on the third day I developed pain again and they discovered a perforation at the site where they had re- joined the bowel.