Joy, aged 61
“I was busy working full time as a secondary school teacher. I went to the gym and swimming four times a week. I was healthy – or so I thought – although always quite tired at the end of the day. When I turned 60 the NHS screening kit came through the post. I thought it was pointless to complete it as there was nothing wrong with me and surely I’d know about it if something was wrong? So I left it for two weeks. However, while I was off work I decided to take the test. The first one I sent off came back as an abnormal reading, so I was asked to do it again. The second one was normal, but as I’d previously had an abnormal result they asked me to do one more to make sure. This one came back abnormal again.
I was sent a letter asking me to go for a colonoscopy, a camera test to look inside my bowel. During this the procedure, on reflection I noticed that they moved the screen away from my view. In the recovery room whilst drinking tea, the nurse asked if I could get my husband to come in as well. The consultant said they’d found a large tumour in my bowel and they’d need to operate soon. I had a major operation followed by thirteen sessions of chemotherapy.
It’s been a very difficult time for me and my family, but my most recent scan showed no evidence of the disease. If it hadn’t have been for the screening test – I wouldn’t be here. So I’d urge anyone who receives it to take part, even if you feel well. It really could be a life-saver.”