Jackie Mifflin, Yeovil
I was 61 years old when I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.
In April 2016, I read an article in the Daily Mail entitled ‘Is it piles or something sinister?’ This article detailed how people confuse the symptoms of haemorrhoids for those of bowel cancer and after reading this article several times, I kept thinking about how the symptoms actually applied to me.
The article said that people dismiss rectal bleeding as a symptom of piles. I didn’t realise that blood in my stools was a sign of bowel cancer as until I read the Daily Mail article, I knew absolutely nothing about this disease.
I made an appointment to see my GP and told him that I’d had blood in my stools for about 2-3 months. He told me later during a telephone consultation that as soon as I told him how long I’d been having symptoms for, he knew straight away that I had bowel cancer. He didn’t actually suggest that I had cancer at the time, probably not wanting to alarm me but also because I had not been examined by the colorectal team at Yeovil Hospital.
During my appointment my GP immediately referred me to Yeovil Hospital for a flexi-sigmoidoscopy. After the procedure, my consultant told me that the news wasn’t good and that I had bowel cancer. I don’t remember anything else about our conversation because I just went into ‘shock’ mode. The rest of the day was a complete haze.
after reading this article several times, I kept thinking about how the symptoms actually applied to me
Over the next few weeks I had a CT scan and an MRI scan to determine the size and location of my tumour. I then began a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which lasted six weeks. Once the medication was out of my system I underwent colorectal surgery and my consultant, who had originally diagnosed my cancer, successfully removed my tumour.
I also had a stoma fitted during this procedure in November 2016. I was all ‘fingers and thumbs’ at the start but the stoma team made sure I was able to measure and fit a new stoma pouch before leaving hospital. I went home twelve days after my surgery having had all the care and support that I could have wished for.
The results of a biopsy after my surgery meant that I had to have further chemotherapy treatment to ensure all cancer cells were destroyed. Once I completed my treatment, I had another CT scan to make sure all the cancer was gone and exactly fifteen months from the date of my diagnosis, in July 2017 I was given the all clear by my doctor. I was completely elated and relieved to have come through my treatment and almost reached the end of my journey!
My stoma was reversed almost ten months later in September 2017 and I wasn’t nervous about this, as I had been given all the information I needed and had all my questions answered by my consultant, Nader Francis. Living with a stoma was a pleasant experience for me.