David, aged 58
“I was working in my study early in the morning on Halloween, 2013, when I had a sudden rush of what I thought was severe diarrhoea, but on going to the bathroom I saw I had lost a concerning amount of blood. I believe I might have lost small amounts of blood before this, but not in any quantity to make me concerned. Obviously this blood loss wasn’t normal and I contacted my doctor as soon as the surgery opened. I gained an appointment for a few days later.
At the appointment, I explained my symptoms. At this stage I realised it may be serious, but cancer was only one possibility in my mind. The GP did a brief examination of me and he had no hesitation in referring me to a specialist as an urgent case. He did mention cancer as a potential cause of the loss of blood, but it took a couple of visits to the colorectal clinic before I was given the absolute diagnosis of a tumour in my rectum. I had surgery in April 2014 after four sessions of radiotherapy. Biopsies confirmed that my cancer was at an early stage with no lymph nodes affected, so I did not need follow up chemotherapy.
I have no doubt my instant reaction to the first significant symptom, combined with my doctor’s rapid action, at least saved me the prospect of the cancer spreading and may have saved my life.”