by CBCSG Member George Richards.
My name is George Richards, my eight year journey with this dreadful disease began on 22nd February 2010 when I took ill at work with acute stomach pains. I was working about ten miles from home, and to this day I don’t know how I managed to drive myself home . Well I did and on my arrival my wife was quite shocked because becoming ill wasn’t something I did. We rang our local surgery it was 1.30pm I was told to come to the surgery at 2pm and a doctor would see me. My next door neighbour kindly drove me and the wife to the doctors, by this time I was in a lot of pain and could barely walk from the car park to the surgery. The doctor decided he would see me about 2.20pm, he didn’t get up from his backside to examine me but prescribed pain killers and extra strong antibiotics, he told me to have a blood test and he arranged an appointment for me to attend Treliske Hospital for an Ultra Sound Scan to see if I had kidney stones. Not being ill before I suppose I was a bit naïve, the pain killers were obviously for the pain, however, what was he treating with the antibiotics ??? The scan for kidney stones, with hindsight this would have been unlikely to have caused stomach pains. The blood test he was quite right to advise, however, be aware cancer doesn’t always show up in a blood test mine didn’t.
The weeks turned into months, various pain killers different antibiotics, making the drug manufacturers richer and I was getting worse, having difficulty going to the toilet and noticeably losing weight . It was now August I hadn’t worked for weeks, I couldn’t, I went to see the doctor again. When I walked into his surgery I could see he was stunned by the weight loss, and he there and then referred me to see a consultant. ( Soon after this GP retired.) My advice to anyone is not to be fobbed off by GPs diagnosis, they have been proven wrong so many times, Irritable Bowel Syndrome wrong -- Haemorrhoids wrong -- Antibiotic related diarrhoea wrong – General constipation wrong. Don’t be stupid like I was, if there’s a problem it’s not going to just go away, insist that your GP refers you to a consultant at the very earliest opportunity. Don’t let them play Russian Roulette with your life !!! You are asking for nothing more than what you are entitled to, I paid into the NHS for forty seven years. It is your life YOU ARE IN CHARGE !!! Once I saw my consultant within a week I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, within another ten days I was in for open surgery to remove a tumour the size of a satsuma (my surgeons words not mine). I week after being discharged from hospital I had a telephone call informing me that the tumour was indeed malignant, however, fortunately the Cancer did not enter my blood stream nor my lymph nodes , therefore no chemotherapy or any other treatment was necessary. I made a remarkably quick recovery, regained my weight loss, and within a few months was back to my old self, and back to work part time. I feel that although diagnosis was delayed for so long I was very fortunate to be clear of this dreadful disease, OR WAS I ??? In October 2013 I went to Barncoose Hospital for my annual follow up appointment, I was told that as I was three years post surgery and I had the option of going for a routine CT scan. I wasn’t one bit anxious about having the scan because I was feeling so well in myself. I went to Penzance Hospital on the Friday for the scan, the following Friday I had a phone call from my colerectal nurse informing me that the scan had in fact shown a lesion on my liver. You could have knocked me over with a feather, totally unexpected, knocked myself and my dear wife and family for six. This was followed up by going to Treliske Hospital for a MRI scan which confirmed Cancer of the Liver, then I had to go to Derriford Hospital for what they call a Pet scan to determine the severity and the location of the Cancer tumours and to decide if it was operable. I had major open surgery for a liver resection on 6th March 2014, ( 60% removed ) a much bigger and more complicated procedure that that of 2010.
Whilst writing this account of my journey with Cancer I am eight years post surgery for my bowel cancer, and four years and four months post surgery for my liver resection. I am seventy years of age, I have recently put a new roof on our double garage, I look after our very large garden and I'm a full time carer for my dear wife Margaret who was diagnosed three years ago with Vascular Dimentia, bless her. So there IS life after cancer !!!
The actual point of me writing this article is to pre warn anyone who thinks they have the slightest problem to press for an immediate investigation. When you go to the toilet keep an eye on things, if there's the slightest signs of blood DON'T delay in seeing your GP. If you are diagnosed at stage 1 there's every chance you will be cancer free. When I was diagnosed with the liver Cancer I was told they had no way of knowing how long the tumours had been there. I now wonder if this situation was created due to the delayed referral back in 2010. Perhaps if the Bowel Cancer was diagnosed earlier, then it would not have spread to my liver and consequently I may have only had to have one major operation rather than two.
I would like to say before completing this article I hope I have not alarmed anyone, that is not my intention. My only intention is to create awareness that EARLY DIAGNOSIS is of the up-most importance. If you are embarking on this journey please do not have nightmares it is no way as bad as what you may imagine . Modern anaesthetics, pain control, healing, and after care have come on in leaps and bounds and you will experience only minimal discomfort. If I can give anyone any support or encouragement to anyone please do not hesitate to contact me.
Kind regards to all
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