Jim Meighan, Cumbria
In 2006 I was doing well; a healthy diet, gym, weight down and looking forward to a Panama Canal cruise with my wife Pam. I’d always had an ‘acid tummy’ and the occasional bout of piles, but they weren’t problems. Then one day I bled profusely from my bottom.
My GP did a rectal examination and blood test and referred me urgently to hospital for a colonoscopy. I was diagnosed with stage two bowel cancer – a golf-ball sized tumour in the rectum – and some polyps in the upper bowel.
Our youngest son was sitting his finals at University, our daughter her ‘A’ levels. My only concern was for them. I thought, ‘We can have our cruise and sort things after we return, by then the exams will be done’, but my consultant wanted to remove the tumour immediately, so the holiday went! The surgery was an abdominal perineal resection, with a permanent stoma formed and I was advised to have a course of chemotherapy as a safeguard.
Physically I lead a normal life now. I’ve been irrigating for over 11 years. It’s an easy process I normally do every 2 days. It usually takes about 45 mins. Being a colostomist really isn’t a problem although a toilet must have a wash basin in the same room. Since my operation we've travelled a lot. To Vancouver to see our youngest son and granddaughter, New York, Barcelona, Paris, Lisbon, and three cruises although haven't managed the Panama Canal yet.
Travel insurance hasn't been an issue. Pam and I have cover through our bank account. Whilst I had to declare that I've had bowel cancer it doesn't demand a premium because the treatment was a success and no more is required so I've been "signed off" so to speak. We moved back to the Lake District almost four years ago now and apart from travelling we are walking a lot, trying to get to shows and concerts and I'm doing the cooking. Love it!
I have volunteered with the charity to support others going through a similar experience. I have also spent time at a hospital talking to patients who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer and signposting them to the charity for support. It was such a success that I came back to do it again. I feel I was doing some good in what could have been a very dark time for me.
I’m really happy to say that last year I reached my five year colonoscopy milestone.
Being a colostomist really isn’t a problem although a toilet must have a wash basin in the same room.