Joy Dansette, Oxfordshire
Joy was 60 when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer
I was busy working full time as a secondary school teacher. I went to the gym and swimming four times a week. I was healthy – or so I thought – although always quite tired at the end of the day. When I turned 60 the NHS screening kit came through the post. I thought it was pointless to complete it as there was nothing wrong with me and surely I’d know about it if something was wrong? So I left it for two weeks.
However, while I was off work I decided to take the test. The first one I sent off came back as an abnormal reading, so I was asked to do it again. The second one was normal, but as I’d previously had an abnormal result they asked me to do one more to make sure. This one came back abnormal again
I was sent a letter asking me to go for a colonoscopy, a camera test to look inside my bowel. During this the procedure, on reflection I noticed that they moved the screen away from my view. In the recovery room whilst drinking tea, the nurse asked if I could get my husband to come in as well. The consultant said they’d found a large tumour in my bowel and they’d need to operate soon. I had a major operation followed by thirteen sessions of chemotherapy.
It’s been a very difficult time for me and my family, but my most recent scan showed no evidence of the disease. If it hadn’t have been for the screening test – I wouldn’t be here. So I’d urge anyone who receives it to take part, even if you feel well. It really could be a life-saver.
Bowel cancer screening can save lives.
Bowel cancer screening saves lives but at the moment in some areas of the UK only a third of those who receive a test in the post complete it. Thousands of people are missing out on the best way to detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat and there is the greatest chance of survival.
How you can raise awareness of bowel cancer screening:
- Over 60? (or in Scotland and over 50?), take the test when you receive it in the post.
- If you are younger, tell the people over 60 (or over 50 in Scotland) in your life, to take the test.
Why is screening so important?
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer however, this drops significantly as the disease develops. Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early and early diagnosis saves lives.