Today is World Cancer Day!
The most important message we can get across today, is that 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer will survive if they’re treated early.
Increasing early diagnosis of bowel cancer is absolutely vital so we need to raise greater public awareness of the symptoms and the importance of screening.
In our “Bowel cancer: a vision for 2020” report, we’ve set out our ambitions for bowel cancer if we all work together including: ‘One million more people screened’ and ‘No one with symptoms turned away’. You can read the full report athttp://bit.ly/bowelcancervision2020
Registration is open for our Patient Day in London on 16th April!
All bowel cancer patients are warmly invited to join us for a day of support, education and inspiration. You can come along on your own or bring a family member or friend with you.
The programme will be our usual varied selection of talks by eminent health professionals and interactive workshops on every aspect of living with bowel cancer.
For more information on the speakers confirmed so far, and to reserve your place, please visit: www.beatingbowelcancer.org/patient-day-london-2016
Kirstie Hill, 33 from Cardiff was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer at the age of 22 in 2005. She is currently 10 years in remission!
She said “I would like to say to people going through this: At the beginning of the journey it’s very hard to stay positive, and just the fact that someone tells you that you have cancer is enough to send you over the edge. You don’t want to hear it and it turns your world upside down. But I think the more positive you are the better. Everyone used to comment that I always had a smile on my face, and I suppose I did through most of it. It brought out my competitive side and I was determined not to let it win. I just thought I won’t let this beat me!”
Kirstie had experienced pain in the abdominal area and erratic bowel habits for around 6 months and a locum GP referred her for a colonoscopy. She said “Up until this point I never ever suspected bowel cancer, so it came as a huge shock when they broke the news. I was stunned and my mum started crying. My mum has always been my biggest support throughout the whole experience, she attended every appointment with me and lifted my spirits if I was feeling down through my treatment.”
After her initial surgery, Kirstie experienced complications and following a second operation awoke with a temporary ileostomy.
Kirstie started chemotherapy a month later and suffered side effects of extreme fatigue and sensitivity to the cold. “I finished treatment in Feb. They reversed the bag, but again my body struggled and I had more of the same complications so I had the bag back again for a year but then I had it successfully removed again. I was very relieved to see the end of it after 2 years!
“When I got to 5 years clear I had a remission party where I hired part of a nightclub in town and invited all my friends to celebrate with me! To me that was a big achievement to reach and I’m grateful for every year I've been alive since.”
Bowel cancer affects people physically and emotionally and a problem shared can make a world of difference.
This is where our online forum can help. www.beatingbowelcancer.org/forum
But don't take our word for it....this is how our forum members sum it up!
Whether you have questions about surgery, are experiencing side-effects and need some tips, want to share good news to give others hope or you just need to talk, you'll find plenty of friendly support.
We know that bowel screening can detect bowel polyps and bowel cancer in people that have no symptoms. If diagnosed early, more than 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully.
Across the UK, less than 60% of those invited for screening actually complete and return their test kit. At Beating Bowel Cancer we want to help improve the uptake of screening and would really appreciate your views.
We’d like to hear from people who’ve either previously completed a bowel screening kit, or those who are approaching screening age (50 in Scotland, 60 in the rest of the UK).
If you’ve previously completed a stool kit, did you do it first time, or if you put it off, can you let us know why this was? If you’re approaching screening age, do you intend to complete the kit?
We’d like to know what you think might incentivise more people to take part in screening – would you be more inclined to complete the test if perhaps you received something in return for example a free gift or gift voucher, or perhaps simply better information about the benefits would persuade you, or a personalised discussion with your GP or Practice Nurse?
As people supporting this page, you’ve quite likely already been affected by bowel cancer in some way, so might be more inclined to complete the test anyway – so if you’re able to ask these questions of friends or family members to help us get a wider range of responses, we’d be very grateful.
Our nurse consultant Paula Madden, has been working closely with the Department of Health and Endoscopy Departments on bowel screening and would be very interested to hear your views.
Sophie Chapman from Cheltenham was 32 when she was diagnosed. 5 years on from diagnosis, she wanted to tell her story.
"The only real symptom I had was some bleeding when I went to the toilet. I went to the GP a couple of times before I was referred in June 2010.
Investigations showed there was a cancerous tumour low down in my rectum. This period of not knowing the full extent of the situation or if the cancer was anywhere else was indescribably worrying and mentally such a challenging time.
I had surgery in August 2010 which resulted in a temporary ileostomy. Physically and emotionally it all took its toll. It took me at least 2 months to recover.
It was very hard watching everyday life going on around me whilst I was incapacitated and desperately trying to get stronger. At 32 I thought I was completely in control of my life but cancer snatched it away.
I had further surgery in February 2011 to reverse my ileostomy. I was worried as there was some uncertainty over control and function simply due to the nature of the primary surgery. I was frightened I'd need constant access to a toilet and it affecting my quality of life. Thankfully these fears were all unfounded and after successful surgery my control and function were brilliant and don't impact on my daily life at all.
Reaching 5 years clear was an enormous milestone and knowing I will undergo colonoscopies every 3 years for the rest of my life gives me great peace of mind.
The whole experience has changed my perspective on life. It has shaped me into a more relaxed, more accepting, person. I like the Beating Bowel Cancer Facebook group, because it’s really interesting to read other people’s stories, to know about their situation and how far they’ve come, it’s very inspiring.
If you're reading this and you are worried, please get checked out! Foolishly I’d had my symptoms for a good few months before I did anything about it. Bowel Cancer can affect anyone. I was young, a healthy eater, took regular exercise and didn’t drink or smoke, but it still happened to me."
Bowel Cancer mostly affects people over 50 but in five percent of cases it affects people under 50 like Chris Norris.
Chris was diagnosed in October 2014 aged 32. At one point a doctor told him “Don’t worry about cancer, you’re too young.” Sadly by the time Chris was diagnosed he also had mets in his liver and peritoneum.
His surgery was complex. They removed the affected part of his bowel and liver and stripped surfaces of his peritoneum, followed by a chemotherapy bath. His oncologist told him the treatment he had was designed to give him the best chance of long-term survival. He is currently doing well.
Lots of younger patients like Chris say that it can feel quite isolating being a younger person with bowel cancer. Many people in the waiting room or having chemo will be many years older, and it can feel lonely being in the minority.
Chris told us that he is aware everyone is different, and although not for everyone, he instinctively felt that peer to peer support was a good thing for him, and was pleased when he found the Beating Bowel Cancer Forum. He said: “The Online Forum is a friendly and supportive place. It’s really important to talk to people who’ve been there and know what they are talking about. The internet can be full or unreliable and scary information.”
Here at Beating Bowel Cancer we want to support people of all ages, which is why we have the Young people with bowel cancer area on our Online Forum.
The group is aimed at people under 35. Chris said: "The younger persons group on the forum is particularly important, as many younger patients never meet anyone of their age with bowel cancer. Having a dedicated area for younger patients is a great way to make new connections.”
If you are under 35 take a look at our Online Forum group dedicated to you here.http://community.beatingbowelcancer.org/…/young-people-wit…/