Well this is a blog I honestly never thought I’d write. Where to start? It’s not easy especially as this kind of cancer isn’t exactly easy to talk about- as Deborah James describes it- it’s the brown cancer.
I followed Deborah James and her journey with Bowel Cancer for years and always so admired her openness, positivity and how she went about living her life- however long she had left she was making the most of it and helping others in the process. Like many others, I was devastated when she passed away- whilst it was obviously always a possibility, some part of me thought she’d just carry on and make it through.
As well as Deborah, back in March, I became aware of Naomi and her sister SJ who were sharing their journey on Instagram under @survivingsupportingsisterhood. SJ and I had connected a few years prior when I was running local co-working sessions for mums with childcare. Naomi was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer last year- this is what made it real for me – she was the same age and seemed very similar to me so that is what prompted me to get a stool test kit – I ordered it online since I was finding getting a GP appointment very slow. It was about £40 (see link below) from a company called Let’s Get Checked. I’m also way below the age for standard bowel cancer screening so I thought I’d just pay and get it done.
So I got the test and sent off a sample – and it came back abnormal. It was a faecal Immunochemical test and the result was 162. From there I then booked a consultation with a Specialist – when she saw this result and heard my symptoms- blood when going to the loo, abdominal discomfort, feeling more tired than usual – she booked me in for a Colonoscopy 3 weeks later.
This is a screenshot of the result- it’s all done online and within an app:
Note that you can get a positive and not have Bowel Cancer- the blood can be there for other reasons, but then more tests should be done to check.
The Colonoscopy itself wasn’t pleasant- especially the disgusting laxative solution you have to take the evening beforehand to clean everything out, but it was manageable. I was under sedation so I wasn’t completely aware of everything going on- it felt uncomfortable, but all the doctors and nurses were so lovely to me it really helped.
Once I’d come fully back around afterwards, I was taken back up to my room in the hospital. This is when I sensed perhaps it wasn’t good news as no one was telling me anything yet and then the doctor asked for my husband Nick to come up from the waiting room.
I don’t think anything can prepare you for being told you likely have Cancer- though they weren’t 100% sure at this stage, they were pretty certain and the doctor was already talking about treatments and possibly chemotherapy.
I had a sense of knowing this was about to happen- a great sense of trust in my gut (ironically?!) Whilst it obviously wasn’t the news we wanted to hear, we focused on the positives- that it had been caught. Hopefully early enough to make a full recovery.
Over the next few days I was sent in for more scans and the biopsies they had taken were sent to the lab. Three days later it was officially confirmed. Trying to sleep the night before this appointment was tricky to say the least. But coming out of the appointment we felt mainly positive- they didn’t think it had spread (though they need to check with a few more scans) and having a plan of action makes such a difference rather than sitting in a place of uncertainty.
I’m going to be posting here when I can to share my updates- it’s really important that we get word out about these tests and get more people to test and make sure they aren’t at risk. If this happening to me at such a young age for this disease means I can help spread awareness, it won’t feel in vain.
I’ve got more tests pending, but hoping to go in for the bowel resection operation next week- I’ll post more when I know. More uncomfortable tests this week first.
Before this all happened, I was self-employed as a coach and mentor for women helping with business and marketing strategy for small businesses and startups, I also run a membership called The Intuitive Business Academy.
This means that whilst I am focusing all my energy on the operation, recovery and follow-on treatment, I won’t be able to bring in my usual income. Whilst my husband Nick will continue to pay all the everyday household bills, all the extra Cancer-care related costs and childcare costs will make things hard. We would really appreciate a bit of extra support if you are able to help, just to take that weight off our shoulders.
Hopefully I’ve caught it early enough to make a difference- it’s on the rise in younger women in their 30s and 40s so if you feel you have any of the symptoms (or even if you don’t- it can be symptomless) please do this simple test.
I took this test-
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