Jaimin Patel, London
Early 2013, I noticed blood in my stool and went to see the GP. He did a quick rectal scan and I was sent for a blood test. I didn’t notice any more blood and so I didn’t chase the results until the end of the year when it flared up again. I went back to my GP that referred me to my local hospital for a colonoscopy, which revealed I had stage 3 bowel cancer.
I remember thinking at the time that my GP didn’t think much of my symptoms as I was 30 – very young for bowel cancer – and generally healthy. Once they did the colonoscopy and found malignant tumours I was quickly escalated for surgery but this didn’t happen until July 2014. I had my large intestine removed and was left with an ileostomy.
After chemo, I was placed on six monthly reviews and everything was fine for about a year but in January 2016 after a routine CT scan they found cancer in my liver. After more scans and planning for a liver operation they found a growth on my lung. In February 2016, I had an operation on my liver and later in August 2016 an operation on my lung.
Currently I have three-monthly scans and hopefully if the cancer stays clear, I will move back to a scan every six months.
I had a very difficult time coming to terms with it initially, but having researched more about the treatment I became more positive with the help of my family and friends. It was a struggle initially with the changes I had to make to get used to having an ostomy bag, but adapting has been relatively simple and I have just had to work out a few simple methods of dealing with my condition.
I am a lot more aware of what I eat and how I live my life, but help and support from friends and family has meant I have not struggled as much as I would have thought from the changes I had to make.
I’m trying to stay as positive as I can; my wife is pregnant with our first child so I have a lot to live for.
Update: My son is now two years old. Last May I had another operation and managed to get out after four days to recover at home. It was a small key hole surgery, but since then I’ve been stable and they’ve moved me to six monthly scans. I continue to try and carry on with life and am focussing more on work no. Life at home is busy with the little one, but we manage to enjoy a lot of social events and get out to do things like take Keshal to the farm to see animals and walks in the park to take him to play in the playground there when the weather is nice.
But we’re improving access to treatment and care for advanced bowel cancer
Nearly 4,000 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 are 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
Having researched more about the treatment I became more positive with the help of my family and friends