Rosemary Murray, Surrey
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2020, aged 42.
I didn't have any of the classic bowel cancer symptoms, but I did have a temperature and I was feeling sick. I thought I had coronavirus, however one day I was in such severe pain that I thought I was having a heart attack so I rang for an ambulance.
When I arrived at the hospital I had a CT scan, and originally the medical team saw a clot on my lung. However then they discovered it was a dark shadow, so I had another scan a bit lower down and that’s where they found the tumour.
I wasn't expecting to hear that I had bowel cancer. I was on my own, due to COVID-19 precautions. I just couldn't believe it, I had no symptoms – only a slight temperate and a pain in the last couple of days. Thoughts were going through my mind that it couldn't possibly be cancer – I was shocked in disbelief. I thought I may die, and worried about my family, it upset me not being able to see them.
When I told my partner, he was in complete shock and then I had to tell my two daughters, aged 12 and 8 at the time.
The next day I had emergency surgery (left hemicolectomy) and spent two nights in an intensive care unit. Six weeks later, once I had recovered I started six months of chemotherapy. The side effects weren't too bad, I just felt tired. I think I was quite lucky, compared to others. I remained positive throughout.
Last September I took part in Walk Together, whilst I was on chemotherapy, with a couple of friends over a few weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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.