Beating bowel cancer together

Zumbathon for bowel cancer

Written by Helen Handley

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in August 2016 following emergency admission for surgery. My primary tumour was in the upper colon and I had only one of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer which started a month before, some cramping after eating.Naturally being a fit 36 year old, my GP was suspecting other milder conditions- at first they thought it was gallstones. A couple of days later I returned to A&E in agony, now being sick and thank goodness, I was given a CT scan which showed a large tumour was causing an obstruction.

I needed lifesaving surgery which was successful and removed the whole tumour and a number of affected lymphs. After having 6 weeks to recover, I commenced a strong chemo combination. I had also received devastating news that due to the nature of the cancers spread, I would always need treatment.

I’ve been very fortunate in tolerating chemo and having breaks from time to time. I am currently on a ‘gentler’ maintenance regime. The previous chemo meant I could do very little with strong side effects and fatigue but the maintenance allows to join in the odd Zumba class! The side effects of the current chemo affect my hands and feet and my mobility can be affected at different times. I was incredibly grateful for my recent scan which meant I could stay on this regime for another few months.

Zumba helps keep me fit but really helps me keep emotionally well. Living with advanced cancer is challenging and we live from scan to scan but I am blessed with an army of fantastic support in my family and friends. I have two beautiful children aged 6 and 4 that keep me in the ‘now’ and being grateful for any well days we can all enjoy. Whilst it’s terrible to be given a cancer diagnosis, the better way to live is by trying to remain optimistic and have fun!

To raise money and awareness, I held a Zumbathon in May and had a cake sale at the event. Zumba is enormously fun and it was fantastic to have so many local friends support it that don’t normally go! Over 70 people came and they all seemed to enjoy too! The ticket sales, cake selling and other donations have raised over £1500. I also released a Just Giving page for anyone who couldn’t come or wasn’t local and wanted to support – in total we raised over £3,600!

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