Yasir, aged 27
“My family has a history of ulcerative colitis and I was on steroids and immuno-suppressants from the age of 13 to control the symptoms and was also receiving regular follow-up screening. In 2012 I had a routine colonoscopy, where polys were removed, but not found to be cancerous. By 2013, I was starting to feel really ill again, I lost weight, was extremely tired all the time and had to use the bathroom urgently up to 12 times a day. I then developed a bad pain in my abdomen and narrower stools. I went back to my gastro-enterologist who changed my medication; my symptoms calmed down and I put back the weight I had lost, however I couldn’t shake off the tiredness. Then in late 2013, during a routine colonoscopy a tumour was found in my descending colon.
My surgeon said that due to my history, he advised having my whole colon including my rectum removed and that he would fit a J-pouch [where the end of the small bowel is joined to the end of the anal canal to create a reservoir] and give me a temporary ileostomy. Initially my surgery went well, but two weeks later I developed a high fever, very bad back pain and quickened heart rate. A CT scan showed that there were pockets of infected fluid around my J-pouch. I was given multiple antibiotics intravenously and was nil by mouth. I started to feel better after four days and was allowed home after eight days, very pleased to be able to eat proper food again.
Since then I’ve had regular check-ups and have been given the all-clear. My tumour was stage 1 and I did not need chemotherapy, because all 56 lymph nodes that were tested were clear of cancer. I had my temporary ileostomy reversed nine months after the original surgery.
Before bowel cancer, I was very fit and ate well, with lots of fruit, vegetables and fibre in my diet. Since my treatment, I’ve had to change to refined, processed and starchy food as I couldn’t handle fibre. I am anaemic, but the iron tablets I took for this made me feel sick, so I have occasional iron infusions and try to balance my nutrition as much as I can. Since my reversal, despite suffering some pouch inflammation, I have gradually resumed exercising and focused on setting myself fitness goals to push my body further. And I’ve got back into my other main hobby – baking cakes and pastry!”
As well as being one of our Decembeard poster boys, Yasir has taken part in our fundraising collections and attended awareness-raising events.
“When I was diagnosed Beating Bowel Cancer was a real source of support and help for me and I was really glad of all the information the charity had to offer. I remember thinking when I get over this I want to be in a position to help with awareness raising and also to help others find the information and support that was so beneficial to me. To anyone thinking of volunteering I’d say it will give you an opportunity to make some really good friends and meet some really lovely people. Meeting patients and carers at the last Patients Day was a humbling experience for me. I was so inspired by their stories.”