A great way to end this difficult journey
Written by Rebecca Neill
It has been a full on journey since last year when I first started feeling unwell - it was tricky to get a diagnosis, the GP clearly wasn’t expecting bowel cancer when I was 46! I ended up seeing a consultant privately who also wasn’t particularly worried but he did arrange for me to have a scan 3 weeks later.
Mum and I rang his secretary the day after the scan to press for him to look at it ASAP as I was vomiting yellow bile by that stage (I had taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the 2 weeks before the scan). We rang again the next day and then I was immediately admitted to hospital.
I had a colonoscopy the morning after and was then told it was bowel cancer which had spread into the upper intestine, the bladder and the ovaries. After a MDT meeting 5 days later they decided to operate but didn’t know whether they would be able to save my bladder and whether I would need a colostomy. They also said that it was a possibility that things were too far advanced in which case they would close me back up and move straight to palliative care. I couldn’t believe that after months of thinking that maybe I was making a fuss about nothing, it was actually very nearly too late!
They operated and needed to remove the whole bladder, ovaries, uterus, cervix, part of the colon and part of the upper intestine. I was in ICU for 4 days and then on the ward for another 10days.
Then just as I was about ready mentally and physically to return home a leak appeared. After another scan I had to go in for another major operation and this time they had to create a colostomy as well. So I now have two bags - which after various internet searches - seems to be relatively uncommon.
It was back to the ICU, then the ward, and then finally home after a full 4 weeks in hospital.
So a traumatic time - especially for my family (including my two daughters who are now 13 and 11). But after all that my recovery has been very good, and the sheer relief and joy of being alive(!) has meant I have actually felt very positive throughout the process since being at home.
Walking has been a huge part of my recovery and so this challenge seemed like a great way to signify the end of this tricky journey - now that chemo has finished as well - as well as a great opportunity to raise funds for the charities working with bowel cancer.