On 2nd April 2011, Sheila was rushed into hospital with extreme stomach pains and bloating. The preceding three days were spent with these symptoms along with being violently sick ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. She was unable to move out of bed for the entire period. This wasn't new to us as she'd been having these symptoms exactly every three months for the last two years. The difference this time was that it didn't last just 24 hours like the previous occurences. What wasn't different, was the fact that the GP's who saw her never for one moment considered bowel cancer (cancer was never mentioned) and one senior GP could barely bring himself to visit on the 2nd day. He thought perhaps paracetamol might help. Even the night she went to hospital, cancer never occurred to us, though a sinking feeling did begin to surface. I remember on the way into the hospital, a lady we walked past looked at Sheila's stomach and smiled, presumably she thought Sheila was pregnant and in labour. The next day I expected they would have managed to fix the problem and I'd go to collect her. Instead a surgeon called. He told us there was a large lump in her bowel and they needed to operate. Our life has not been the same since.
Why does this matter to you?
You're visiting this site as a family member, a friend or just a passer-by. You may or may not have been affected by cancer but if you're anything like me, the chances are you think it won't happen to you. Well it could! We were happily plodding along in life, planning for the future, bring up our children as best we could. And then WALLOP. Sheila didn't just have cancer, she'd already had a mole removed a couple of years previously and I remember what a frightening thought, Sheila has a cancerous mole. But that was removed and forgotten about, we got on with life. This was different. The cancer had spread outside of the bowel, it had burst through the bowel wall and spread to the peritoneum (a thin layer surrounding major organs). The surgeon said in cases like this they, "were less optimistic". According to the doctor's, only 5% in Sheila's condition would live for 5 years. If they're right, she won't live to be 40. There are no words to adequately describe this feeling so that anyone unaffected could possibly understand.
But it matters to you because it could be you. It could be your children that will lose their mummy or daddy, or you that loses your soulmate or parent to this devastating illness. If you have ANY concerns about your health, my first advice is to talk to a nurse at Beating Bowel Cancer or Bowel Cancer UK. A word of warning: GP's are known to NOT know very much about Bowel Cancer and it's symptoms. GP's will say it's just piles, or noro-virus, or IBS. They might say, "it won't be anything serious, as it wouldn't come and go like that" (ours did).