“I have always found it hard to go to the toilet, going two or three times a week at best. In April 2015, I saw my GP, as I was really struggling to go to the loo. We put this down to stress initially, but things moved very quickly once I saw my consultant and had an endoscopy. We were blown away to be told that I had Stage 4 rectal cancer which had spread to my liver.
I took the bold step and opted to have a stoma, as this would make my life easier during treatment. We named her Fanny – it was part of me and would become a way of life. She was with me for almost 18 months until, just three months ago, we said our goodbyes.
The first few days after my stoma was reversed, things were OK, not much movement, but I could eat what I wanted, with no restrictions like with the stoma. Then on day 3 when I was about to be discharged, the cramps and pain kicked in as my bowels came back to life. I am a very quick healer and was back on my feet the very next day after the operation, so was very downhearted that this had happened. I didn’t want to eat at this point as I felt so full, but I needed to eat to get things moving – a vicious circle. After a few days, the pain died down a little and I was allowed home with pain relief to hand. Once home things really got moving, I didn’t leave the house for almost two weeks, as the urgency to go to the toilet was overwhelming and I had to get up in the night for a while.
At one point, when I hadn’t been to the toilet for four days, it was time to seek help from my consultant. He checked that my bowel was not blocked and recommended some laxatives. So 12 laxatives later, we had movement, oh yes we did. It came to a point where it was easier to leave the light on and the loo seat up, because I didn’t have time to do both. This went on for about 10 days. After a while I felt ready to venture out into town, but I did wear a very large pad, just in case I had a little accident, each time looking where the toilet was and sitting close to the toilet in restaurants.
Today, I try and eat a high fibre diet, drink lots of fluids and only eat about twice a day as that seems all my body can cope with at the moment. Life is good, back on track. Cancer was just a blip in my life plan. I had cancer, it didn’t have me.”