Kate Worth, Leicester
I was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in May 2018, at the age of 36.
I went to give blood in December 2017, but couldn’t because my iron levels were too low. I went to the GP and had some blood tests, but there was no obvious reason for my anaemia. Because he couldn’t find a reason he made an urgent referral (should be seen within 2 weeks) for an endoscopy (camera down the throat) as he though it could be a stomach ulcer. Unfortunately, the first appointment they could offer was in June 2018.
My doctor was fantastic. He wasn’t satisfied with the waiting time so he persisted and I had my endoscopy in February 2018, which came back all clear. This was clear so I was seen for a colonoscopy which was in March 2018 and they discovered a tumour in my colon along with multiple polyps. The tumour had been bleeding internally and had been contributing to my anaemia. I hadn’t had any obvious bowel cancer symptoms, so it came as a big shock.
I have a new-found respect for life and how quickly things can change, and I am staying positive for my kids
The official diagnosis was confirmed after they removed the tumour and 20 lymph nodes during my total colectomy operation. The cancer reached the outer lining of the bowel wall but hadn’t spread. I had my colon removed through keyhole surgery in April 2018 but no stoma needed as they managed to attach my small intestine to my rectum.
I’ll soon be starting eight cycles of chemo for the next six months. This decision was made because of my age and a protein test which showed I would respond well to chemo. I’m sure it will be a difficult time but I’m ready to accept the challenge.
It’s all been a whirlwind and happened so quickly, so that’s been hard to process. I’m now living without a bowel and I’m taking tablets daily to manage the diarrhoea. I have to be careful about what I eat. I’ve recovered really well from the surgery and I’m managing to work and have started to exercise again. The entire clinical team during this journey has been amazing. They have been supportive, provided really high levels of care and explained every step of the process so I was well informed enough to make decisions about my treatment.
I hadn’t had any obvious bowel cancer symptoms, so it came as a big shock.
I had no idea that my anaemia would result in my bowel cancer diagnosis. I have been told that it might be genetic due to the large number of polyps I had in my colon. There’s no history of it in the family but my consultant has referred me to the geneticist to do some more investigations, as I have three young children and a brother that could be affected. I’ve consented to take part in the genome project at Leicester University.
I have a new-found respect for life and how quickly things can change, and I am staying positive for my kids. My mission is to help raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer and particularly that it affects younger people too! And of course, to encourage people to give blood as that probably saved my life. I shared my story on NHS Blood Donor Facebook page and the response to people signing up to give blood was amazing. I intend to share my chemo journey to raise awareness of bowel cancer. I hope to take on some fundraising challenges next year. Before I was diagnosed I was competing in triathlons so I’ll be looking to incorporate this into fundraising for Bowel Cancer UK.
You can read more about Kate's journey on her blog https://thebadbowelblog.wordpress.com/.
But we’re leading change
Never Too Young is leading change for younger bowel cancer patients. Every year 2,500 younger people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK. Our research has shown that younger bowel cancer patients have a very different experience of diagnosis, treatment and care.
What are we calling for?
- Improved clinical guidance and practice on bowel cancer in younger people
- Improved identification of people with genetic conditions and access to surveillance screening
- Improved information for younger people on bowel cancer symptoms