“Our world was shattered in 2012 when my husband Richard was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer following the bowel screening test, that is offered from the age of 50 in Scotland.
Unbelievably, we were left alone after diagnosis with absolutely no information and a very unsupportive bowel cancer nurse at hospital. I decided then that I had no choice but to take matters into my own hands and find information out for myself in order to get us all though this. I found myself becoming quite the expert on bowel cancer and diet as well as keeping on top of all the hospital appointments.
Our two children were teenagers at the time and just about to sit crucial school exams as well as apply to universities. I tried my best to hold everything together at home, but having to pull myself together so that our children couldn’t see my emotional struggle was possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done and will do.
Richard was soon having major surgery and an unexpected three-week stay in hospital, with my daily visits comprising of a 60-mile round trip, which I had to balance with taking our son to school and various activities as well as supporting our daughter. I was absolutely determined for our children to have normality in order to give them the best possible chance for the future.
Chemotherapy consisted of the 60 mile round trip in very snowy weather conditions, with Richard basically sleeping through the following four months and I continued to keep everyone going as much as I could! I was starting to feel overwhelmed and totally exhausted.
It was also now that I felt very alone. There was no one who I could really share my emotions with or tell that I wasn’t coping as well as I appeared. Our friends went back to their families at the end of the day and our own family didn’t understand fully. As far as they were concerned, Richard’s cancer had been removed and he was automatically better.
The strain of caring for my husband as well as trying to keep our children focused on the future was unbearably difficult, as it was also mixed with trying to be positive at all times when all I wanted to do was break down and cry. It was during this dark time that I discovered Beating Bowel Cancer and the wonderful nurse advisors who provided me with so much support, for which I can never thank them enough, as well as the companionship of others on the forum who were on the same journey as us.
Life slowly returned to normal and Richard decided to give something back to the charity who supported me so much through those dark times. So, he grew a beard for ‘Decembeard’ and unbelievably raised over £4000 and the title of the ‘Top Individual Fund Raiser in the UK’! But more importantly, growing that beard raised so much awareness for bowel cancer, which still has a stigma with far too many people who throw the screening test away.”