Sarah Hume, 53 from Essex
I was 44 years old, with three children, when I was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.
It all started in September/October 2009, I’d had a couple of bouts of diarrhoea, which went on for about for a good few days. I had IBS for years but this seemed to be different. I went to the GP and he prescribed me antibiotics because he thought I may have caught a bug when I was in India earlier on in the year. My symptoms subsided for about a month, but eventually it got so bad I couldn’t leave the house as I didn’t want to be too far from a loo. I went back to the GP late November and he referred me for a colonoscopy. I got the appointment for January - the same day as my youngest son’s birthday.
I went along to the appointment with a sense of doom. I obviously had a sixth sense as the doctor discovered a blockage, which they thought might be cancer.
All my children will have regular check-ups once they reach their 30s.
I had a number of tests over the next few days and was told they thought I had stage three bowel cancer. I was booked in for surgery to have an ileostomy. In April I had a five day course of radiotherapy, followed by chemotherapy every two weeks. I was supposed to have a course of 12 but I was reacting poorly around the ninth dose so my oncologist decided to stop.
I got the all clear at the end of September then went back to work. I wasn’t allowed to carry out deliveries because I still had my ileostomy. Over some weeks I felt better and had my reversal of the ileostomy in the January 2011. I have regular bloods taken and colonoscopies. Everything’s ok up until now.
Unfortunately my Mum was taken ill in September 2017 and diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. She was too far gone to have chemotherapy and they had to perform surgery last October. She passed away in April 2018. I have a strong family history of polyps, father, brother and uncle but genetic testing have said it’s not hereditary. All my children will have regular check-ups once they reach their 30s.
I was fit, not over weight and ate a healthy diet. It can happen to anyone.
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