Sophie Capon, 32 from Kingsbridge
In January 2013 I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer aged 26. In 2016 I found out the cancer had spread and I’m now considered terminal.
I had severe vomiting and flu-like symptoms which started in January 2012. These continued at random intervals through the year but were becoming more and more frequent. I also had a truly severe pain in my stomach, rating 10 on the pain scale. I eventually realised there was also blood in my vomit but it took a while for me to recognise this. I was anaemic for a year leading up to my diagnosis.
I went to the GP and was told I had period pains, stomach bugs or they didn’t know. I also visited A&E numerous times with no helpful outcome. No one seemed interested in finding out the cause and no one understood the urgency I felt at my symptoms, which were getting worse. I feel I received a very poor level of care.
Eventually I was admitted to hospital and had a colonoscopy and biopsy. Once diagnosed, I had a right hemicolectomy and chemotherapy. I had side-effects like fatigue, diarrhoea and tingling finger tips, toes and tongue when it was cold.
I am determined to be positive and thankful for all the times I have with my family and friends
Over a year ago, I was given a prognosis of two years. At the time I was studying at university to become a Speech and Language Therapist, which I had to give up. For the first year I resisted conventional treatment and explored alternative options. Eventually symptoms worsened dramatically and I decided to have palliative chemotherapy, which I’m on now.
High levels of fatigue and pain make each day a struggle. I’m a single mother of a three-year-old. My family provide endless support and help with raising my son and trying to ensure that he is as little affected by all of this as he needs to be. Needless to say our relationship has suffered at times and is different from what it would be if I were well.
However, we have maintained a sense of normality and my family support me in living in my own home with my son. I am determined to be positive and thankful for all the times I have with my family and friends, and we have created many happy memories with holidays, festivals and just generally spending time together. It has undoubtedly brought my friends and family closer together. The thing I have learned the most from all of this is how to live in the moment and be thankful for every moment I have with my son, and celebrate the times when I am feeling well.
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