“I had surgery to remove a T2 tumour in 2011, during which most of my rectum and 10 inches of colon were removed. There was no evidence that the cancer had spread, so I did not need further treatment.
When I went home, I wasn’t prepared for my weakness, and having to rely on other people. I’m accustomed to being very self-reliant and capable; in fact I’m more of a carer by nature, so it was really hard to ask for help. As well as my wife, Rachel, I have to thank three extraordinary friends who chopped wood, washed, vacuumed, shopped and did whatever everyday tasks I couldn’t manage, as well as providing company and cheerful support. They made a huge difference to my life after surgery. All the same I felt incredibly tired and feeble, and worst of all I began to become obsessed with the way my bowels worked.
Because bowel movement was so important in my recovery, but could also take a long time, it became difficult to ‘go’ anywhere but at home in a safe environment, where people wouldn’t be knocking on the door, either to go themselves, or to ask if I was OK. This delayed my return to work, and isn’t the joke you might think, as it played a significant part in how I felt about myself and how safe I felt in other environments.
During my first follow-up colonoscopy in 2012, the new join in my bowel caused a few problems and a scrape of the bowel wall. I went home, but went into shock and had to be readmitted to the colorectal unit for five days of observation (and starvation!).
It’s now been five years since my surgery, so I have been discharged by the colorectal team. However, as polyps were found during my follow-up, I will be given a colonoscopy every two years for the foreseeable future.”