Stage 3 bowel cancer to the Manchester 10k
Written by Rachael Stiles
Backpacking around South America in your early twenties is something that most of the population will only dream about. Having had the chance to do this last year, my trip feels like a dream but for very different reasons.
Some symptoms were there (such as abdominal pain and tiredness); but due to my age and being surrounded by fellow travellers with similar tummy problems, this was dismissed as being caused by either gastro-bugs from the countries’ lack of sanitation or due to the altitude that we were often travelling at. I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at the young age of 23; the cancer was only detected after the previously undiagnosed pain became too intense during a flight in America.
The road to recovery was tough at the best of times, as I had to have a large operation in the U.S. and four months of draining chemotherapy back in the U.K. I was constantly in search of the ‘treatment finish line’, yet when the time finally came, I couldn’t help but feel that it was somewhat anticlimactic. Inspired by the many people I’d met in the world of cancer and determined to do something to give back with my now much more abled body, I signed up to the Great Manchester Run.
Training has been difficult, particularly since I have started a new job. Side effects from the chemotherapy are still a constant in my life and more often than not the need for a nap will override my desire to go for a run! This being said, I am still determined to finish it. I believe that crossing the finish line on the 20 May less than a year after I started chemotherapy is living proof of the good work that charities such as Bowel Cancer UK and The Christie do; whilst also raising both money and awareness of bowel cancer in younger people.