My experience of bowel cancer is very recent.
“In the run up to my diagnosis in March 2017 I had few symptoms.
“I’d had a low level, crampy pain that came and went over several months,” he explains. “Gradually it grew a bit worse and I started passing poo with mucus. I’d also had a really tiny bit of blood in my poo six months before my diagnosis, but it didn’t come back.”
“I put together the pain and the mucus and began to think that ‘something wasn’t quite right’. I went to see my GP who referred me for a colonoscopy and I saw a consultant within a week. The consultant told me that he thought my symptoms were ‘low level’ and I was removed from the two week urgent referral cancer programme. However, the consultant did refer me for a colonoscopy and the appointment came through three weeks later.
“I chose not to have sedation as I wanted to see what was happening. They found a 3.5cm growth and the endoscopist said there was a good chance it was cancerous.”
“I saw my surgeon less than a week after the colonoscopy and was told I would have a laparascopic high anterior resection (sigmoid colectomy). I already knew this as I’d spent a large amount of time researching my condition online. The results from the colonoscopy and a CT scan led my medical team to initially grade my cancer as stage 2.
“My operation took place the following week and this was followed by a CT scan. Ten days after his operation I got a call to say that my tumour was being downgraded to stage 1 as the growth was ‘mobile’ with clear margins. My lymph nodes were not affected and my CT scan was also clear. I did not need chemotherapy. I was told that I would be followed up for five years with regular scans and colonoscopies.
“I’ve been lucky. I noticed the subtle changes in my body and put them together and realised something wasn’t right. My GP took my concerns seriously – she said it was very unusual to see me – and acted quickly. I’d advise anyone to get themselves checked out. Some people are reticent about going for tests – they read accounts of bowel preps and colonoscopies – but I found the tests much easier than I thought to deal with.”
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