“I first visited my GP after experiencing abdominal pain and weight loss which worsened over a period of months. I had no bleeding and no noticeable change in my bowel habits. I very rarely get ill, so I was immediately sent for tests. Despite being referred straight away, my lack of bowel symptoms and the belief that due to being so young, it was ‘unlikely to be anything serious’ led to delays in my cancer diagnosis. It took five months for bowel cancer to be confirmed following a process of elimination. Each referral for tests involved a lengthy wait for appointments, followed by another wait for the results and for my consultant to rule out other conditions. I was investigated for gallstones (by ultrasound scan), then a stomach ulcer (by endoscopy) and finally my cancer was detected following a colonoscopy.
I’ve had surgery to remove two thirds of my large colon, followed by three months of chemotherapy. Despite the late diagnosis, I have remained positive throughout and with the support of family, friends and work colleagues I have recovered well and returned to full-time employment.
Three years on and every day is still a challenge, but what has changed is my outlook and the realisation that life is for living. I embrace every opportunity with both hands. I have accomplished more following diagnosis than I ever have done before. My experience has taught me that early diagnosis is key. It’s important to know your own body, trust your instincts and take action when you know that something isn’t quite right.”