Bowel cancer survivor campaigns for greater awareness after loo break at horse trials saves her life
Sue Rogers from Eastbury Manor Equestrian in Worcester made a visit to a portaloo when she was at a horse trials and it saved her life. She is now campaigning for all portaloos at events to have stickers on their doors to highlight bowel cancer symptoms.
Sue, who was at the horse trials in 2015 to watch her daughter Vicki Hancox compete, was shocked after she went to the loo and saw blood in the pan before she flushed it. She visited her GP who initially thought it was due to piles but sent her for tests to be sure. No-one thought she had a serious problem so when the tests showed she had a large cancerous tumour in her bowel it was a huge shock.
Sue said: “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t feel ill and neither the doctors nor I expected this diagnosis. It was hard for it to sink in and when it did, I just felt so lucky that I had spotted the blood because I’d had no other symptoms. If I hadn’t noticed this and got it checked out, I wouldn’t have been diagnosed when I was and the outcome could have been a lot worse.”
“Portaloos are the perfect place to check for blood in your poo as stools sit on a dry shelf before being flushed away, giving you the chance to have a good look. So we’re encouraging everyone to ‘take a poo and have a view’ – it could save other lives as it did mine.”
Judith Brodie, Chief Executive of the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, said: “The statistics back Sue up. Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but if caught early, 97% of cases can be successfully treated. However the success rate can drop to just 7% for a late-stage diagnosis. So this is a great idea to help raise awareness of the significance of blood in your poo, which is one of the main red flag symptoms of bowel cancer.”
When Sue’s cancer was diagnosed, it hadn’t spread to any other organs but the tumour was huge and inoperable in its current state. Sue endured months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy in an attempt to shrink the tumour so that it could be operated on. At one point this resulted in Sue suffering from third degree burns and she spent eight days in hospital suffering from sepsis.
Eventually the chemotherapy resulted in the tumour shrinking and in November 2016 it was operated on. Following complications more surgery followed and Sue was in hospital for another three and a half weeks over Christmas and New Year, eventually being discharged on January 9 this year.
She was very weak and had lost three stones in weight and now has a permanent colostomy bag. She hated this at first but accepts it now and knows that it won’t stop her doing anything and that no-one can even tell she’s wearing one.
“Although it’s been a very traumatic, difficult and painful time, we’ve still managed to have lots of laughs through it all. My husband Pete has been amazing and I couldn’t have got through it without him and the rest of our family and friends,” said Sue.
Sue has returned to work this month as a Children Services Manager for Action for Children. She is still weak though and needs to build up strength. However she says she won’t stop campaigning until portaloo suppliers to events across the country agree to display awareness-raising stickers on the back of every loo door.
She says “I just need to convince the portaloo companies that it’s a very simple thing they could do that could save many lives.”
Daughter Vicki will also be doing her bit to raise awareness of the disease. This includes branding her horsebox with the Beating Bowel Cancer logo and asking commentators at her equestrian events to announce that she is riding to raise awareness of the disease.
Anyone interested in being involved with Sue’s portaloo campaign can contact Sue by email at email@example.com or on twitter @1966smrogers #pooandview