Beating bowel cancer together

Layla Kirtley-Collison, Newport

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My mum was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in August 2020, at 61.

I was devastated when I heard the news, my world had been turned upside down. It was my dad who told me as my mum couldn’t face talking to me. What makes it worse is that they live in Devon so I unable to visit.

For a while my mum was experiencing stomach pains, sickness and high temperature. However we put it down to her sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that mostly affects the lungs and lymph glands. She’s had it for five years and it’s well managed by medication, but it’s affected her vision very badly.

She never went to the GP but in August, my dad rang for an ambulance to take her to hospital as she had such severe stomach pains. She ended up having lifesaving surgery as her bowel was not far off from exploding. It was during the surgery that they found the tumour, and removed it.

She’s now having five cycles of chemotherapy – she takes five tablets in the morning and five in the evening every day for two weeks, then she has a week off. It's causing her hair to fall out, and she has extreme tiredness. She’s worried about that she’s going to feel worse once they increase the dosage, as they’ve started her off on a low one.

Since I've become an adult me and my mum have become very close, however, I struggle to know what to say to her, if I make a joke she dismisses it, cries and tells me I don't understand. This is true as I don't.

My dad is taking care of her, he has had to go part-time to ensure he is there in the afternoon as he ensures she takes her medication and changes her stoma. My dad isn't coping at all, he makes out that he's fine but I can tell he's really hurting inside.

I was able to see her and I tried to put on a brave face but once I left I broke down, it was like seeing a completely different person.

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