Beating bowel cancer together

Daniel de Brabander, The Wirral

I was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in January 2019, aged 37.

In the lead up to my diagnosis, I remember being very tired, passing blood in my stool, experienced indigestion and I felt very heavy in my bowels. I didn’t feel right for around five to six months.

I went to my GP in June and they recommended I have a blood test, however I just thought I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease so I didn’t do the test. A few months later I was noticing blood in my stools, I Googled the symptoms and grew very concerned that it could be more serious. I went back to the GP who referred me for a blood test and a stool sample.

In January 2019, I had a colonoscopy and it was here that they discovered I had a tumour in my bowel. I could see the cancerous growth on the screen, he couldn’t get the camera past it. I had a feeling something was really wrong then. When he told me I reacted very calm, almost numb and accepting.

Initially I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in my descending colon (left side), which had spread to my liver. The plan was for me to have chemotherapy, a combination of Oxaliplatin and Capecitabine. However after one cycle I ended up with heart spasms from the Capecitabine, which nearly led me to having a major heart attack. Luckily I got to A&E when I did after being advised by my chemotherapy nurse.

After nearly a week in hospital I recovered and I was booked to have surgery on both my bowel and liver in May. Unfortunately a month before the planned surgery, my bowel became blocked and during a routine stent fitting it perforated.

I had emergency surgery and an ileostomy fitted. During the operation I contracted life threating sepsis and my family were told my major organs were ‘shutting off’. I was unlikely to make the evening. Thankfully with the amazing care of the critical care team at my local hospital and I recovered.

In June after scans I was advised my cancer has spread to my peritoneum, my outlook was now bleak. If chemotherapy wasn’t successful I would be looking at months left to live.

Thankfully a combination of Raltraixired and Oxaliplatin showed positive scans with no tumours being longer visible in my peritoneum. This led me being referred to The Christie Hospital in Manchester for surgery and I had 60% of my liver removed in February 2020.

Scans since have shown it is back in my Peritoneum and in August 2020 I restarted chemotherapy (Irinotecan) and targeted therapy (Cetuximab) at The Christie. The plan if all goes well is after six cycles to be considered for Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). I’ve had four chemotherapy cycles so far, and still expected to be scanned after my sixth.

Since being diagnosed with bowel cancer I now live more in the moment, I’m thankful for every day. I look at a life very differently now. I’m keen to turn my negative situation into a positive by helping others despite my battles. We have setup a charity #TeamDDB to support other cancer charities and patients to raise vital awareness of the disease. It has raised over £40,000 to date for cancer charities – I want to turn my negative into a positive. We have celebrity support from the likes of Juan Mata, Gabby Logan, Carl Frampton, Roberto Martinez, Kym Marsh and many more.

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But we’re improving access to treatment and care for advanced bowel cancer

Nearly 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer each year. This is when the cancer has spread to somewhere else in the body, such as the liver or lungs. People with advanced bowel cancer typically have poorer outcomes but access to surgery and drugs can help to extend life and can sometimes be curative.

We're determined to improve survival rates and support for people with advanced bowel cancer. We want to see improved access to high-quality treatment to ensure longer survival and a better quality of life for people, including:

  • Increasing survival rates and improving holistic support for patients and their families
  • Reducing inequalities in access to potential life-saving liver surgery
  • Improving access to cancer drugs based on clinical need and not postcode
  • Providing better communications and support for people with palliative and end of life care needs

Back to younger people with bowel cancer

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