Beating bowel cancer together

Robert David Clubb, 67 from Essex

I was 59 when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2009.

In 2009 I travelled with my wife and friends to Vancouver to start a cruise. One of our friends spotted residual blood in the toilet and we all were asked to check if it were us. It turned out it was me, but I had no previous symptoms. Every day my friend asked me to promise I would go to my GP once we were back home. We returned on the Sunday and I saw my GP on the Wednesday, not thinking anything serious was wrong. After her examination she announced that she could not see or feel anything, but she thought it was sensible to have a second opinion.

Within a short period of time I had a meeting with a consultant who gave me a sigmoidoscopy examination, after which he told me that I had a tumour. Subsequent biopsy confirmed it was malignant, but at an early stage. If it not been the promise to my friend, I would not have visited my GP, as on return from holiday I only experienced one further ‘show’ of blood.

If it not been the promise to my friend, I would not have visited my GP

The initial problem was that the tumour was so low down any immediate surgery would have resulted in a permanent stoma. I was then introduced to an oncologist for radiotherapy and chemo by tablet for several weeks. My only reaction was tiredness. He devised a plan that was intended to shrink the tumour. Whilst all tests showed no sign of any residual areas of concern, it was agreed to remove part of my colon, because that was the best opportunity for a long life. To allow my recovery from surgery, I had a stoma for three months and then a reversal.

I have had a number of colonoscopies both before and after surgery. Not the most pleasant experience I admit, but necessary to ‘make sure’.

The poo tests that I have received both before and after my operations have been completed and were all clear and I encourage everyone to complete theirs.

Whilst I may not be here, were it not for my friend, a proactive GP and the ground breaking work of my oncologist, there is no doubt that my longevity has been greatly influenced by early diagnosis. So, to everyone reading this, if you have a change of bowel habit for three weeks, don’t delay seeking investigation.

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