Our volunteer Sue speaks frankly about bowel cancer
29 Mar 2021
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – a campaign to educate people about a disease that’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.
York Against Cancer volunteer Sue Fagg, a retired dental nurse from Easingwold, is proof that bowel cancer can be beaten and she’s sharing her story to encourage people to come forward if they have concerns.
Sue writes:“I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms of bowel cancer but had been seeing my GP for a couple of years with haemorrhoids.
“Several times during this time I asked if there was anything more serious I should be concerned about, but I was assured there wasn’t.
“At an appointment in January 2010 my GP decided it had been going on long enough and referred me to York hospital for a sigmoidoscopy, a test that looks at the rectum and lower part of the large intestine.
“I received an appointment for February 2nd and during this appointment was told I had rectal cancer.
“A biopsy was taken for confirmation and I was given further appointments for a colonoscopy, CT and MRI scan.
“This all sounds a lot to take on board, but the doctors were amazing and caring and always spent time with me to explain everything. I was also given a colorectal nurse specialist who I could call at any time.
“I was referred to an oncologist at St James’s Bexley Wing and a treatment plan was drawn up for chemo/radiotherapy in tandem.
“This involved attending for 25 radiotherapy appointments over five weeks and I would take chemotherapy tablets morning and night on the days I attended.
“After the treatment I had to wait two months for my body to recover and then on July 1st I had surgery to remove the tumour and create a colostomy because of the position of the tumour.
“I knew from my first appointment that this would be permanent. I can’t say I was thrilled about this but I had been well prepared beforehand by my consultant and specialist stoma nurses and had time to get used to the idea.
“Once home I had a lovely stoma nurse who visited me and sorted out my new way of life and who was always available on the telephone should I need her.
“I had follow-up appointments with my colorectal nurse three-monthly, six-monthly and then yearly, and after five years I was discharged.
“In July I will have been cancer-free for eleven years and I am forever grateful to the wonderful surgeons and medical teams who saved my life.
“Always be aware of your body and if you are worried, never be embarrassed or afraid to seek help.”
Some of the common symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- Bleeding from the bottom and blood in poo,
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit,
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss,
- Being easily fatigued for no obvious reason,
- Pain or a lump in the tummy.
You can read also more about bowel cancer here: