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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

If Something Is Not Right With Your Body Make Yourself Heard

Written by Rachel Reed on 
28th February, 2021
Updated: 4th February, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’d been having symptoms for maybe 2 years before I was diagnosed

I was feeling really tired, having abdominal pain, and also getting a painful burning feeling in the lower part of my stomach after eating some foods. I kept on going to my GP but was just told to take buscopan, which is a medication to treat stomach pain and IBS.

However, the symptoms kept on getting worse, in both April and May 2018 I was admitted to hospital. The doctors diagnosed me with an ovarian cyst. I had a CT scan, MRI scan, and ultrasound, but nothing else was found.

I started trying to deal with some of my symptoms myself, by changing my diet, drinking peppermint tea and taking high-strength probiotics. This did help soothe some of the symptoms, so I thought maybe I might have a food sensitivity. Yet, the pain in my stomach was still there. I asked my GP for a colonoscopy, but they advised I didn’t need one. I was informed I was too young for anything serious to be going on but I'm my gut I knew something was wrong. 

At the time I also had chronic psoriasis, so I thought maybe the medication I was taking for this was the issue.

I went to go see my dermatologist, who looked into the side effects often caused by my psoriasis medication. When realizing none of my symptoms matched this, they quickly booked me in for a colonoscopy.

Please ensure you highlight to your medical professionals that your age doesn’t not mean you can’t get cancer.

I had an appointment with a gastro consultant on the 17th of August and had my colonoscopy on the 12th of November 2018. At my colonoscopy they detailed what I saw on the screen was a lesion on my appendix, which would mean I’d need to be sent for a two-week urgent appointment. At this point I was worried, but I thought the worst it would be was an inflamed appendix.

I was wrong.

At my next appointment, I was told it looked like I had bowel cancer

I had an operation within 2 WEEKS and after this, I was told that I had stage three or four bowel cancer.

The cancer had spread outside the bowel and the ovarian cyst that was picked up a few months ago was part of this spread. However, due to my young age, nobody at the time put this down to advanced bowel cancer.

 It was devastating, but when you find yourself in a position like that, you have no choice but to keep ongoing.

DURING operation, I had a hysterectomy, as well as the removal of two sections of my bowel and a stoma created. This was really tough to deal with and STILL IS. However, I’m so lucky to have the most amazing stepson, Jac, who I absolutely adore. As well as my nieces and nephews, who all give me a reason to smile and laugh again.

After surgery I went started eight cycles of chemotherapy.

However, my treatment plan had to be changed as I was having such severe side effects. When I breathed in cold air it was like I was choking and simply washing my hands felt as though I plunged my hands into a bowl of needles. I couldn’t eat or sleep and had sickness for days. I’m so grateful to my husband who helped me with every task and supported me throughout.

My cancer spread to my lung in September 2019. So now I'm stage four. However, I had successful surgery in November 2019 and further chemotherapy treatment until April 2020. I recently received some positive news that my scan was clear while on chemotherapy. 

I’d been having symptoms for maybe 2 years before I was diagnosed.

I had a follow up scan in September 2020 off treatment and it was finally clear.

I'm due to have another scan in March 2021. I'm now looking to have my stoma reversed in February. 

I will continue to be monitored for the next 5 years every 6 months with scans, blood tests and appointments so the nightmare of cancer is still not over. However, I am starting to rebuild my life and I started back to work in May 2020 and rebuilding my fitness with Lauren Green at empowered women fitness

I've also fundraised for Bowel Cancer UK to help make sure in the future that no other family needs to go through what we are. Since 2019 I've raised over £2,00 by doing the Cardiff Walk Together and Step Up For 30. The donations meant so much to me. I'm hoping to do more this year. 

It's my mission and duty to raise awareness as much as I can so no one else experiences this illness that takes so much from you. 

The main thing I’ve learnt during this is that you have to keep going

Being strong or positive doesn’t come into it, it’s just about taking one step after another and live in the moment. Never take your life for granted and if something doesn't feel right in your body please seek medical advice. 

Being strong or positive doesn’t come into it, it’s just about taking one step after another and live in the moment.

Please ensure you highlight to your medical professionals that your age doesn't not mean you can't get cancer.

Show them the Bowel Cancer UK Never to Young campaign and this story!. I will be forever grateful for the NHS and the care I have received. 

One piece of advice is ask someone to help you update your friends on your situation, it can be very tiring updating everyone.

Don't put pressure on yourself to bounce back, take your time and listen to your body and take part in something you enjoy. I joined Tenovus Sing With Us choir and accessed support from Maggies and Rowan Tree Cancer Care

I'm continuing to rebuild my life and now back in work full time. I now realise that I was unwell for a long time but due to being young, fit and healthy I never thought I could have cancer neither did the health professionals. If something is not right with your body keep going to your GP and if you can, pay privately if your not listened to. Your health is your wealth. 


How do I make myself heard when I think I have cancer?

If you suspect you have cancer, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They can perform diagnostic tests and give you a proper diagnosis. It can be difficult to be heard or taken seriously when you think you have cancer, but the best way to be heard is to be clear and assertive with your doctor. You can also bring a family member or friend with you to your appointment for support. Additionally, if you have any concerns or questions about your diagnosis or treatment, don't hesitate to seek a second opinion.

What are some general tips on being listened to?

*Speak clearly and assertively: Speaking in a confident and clear voice helps. Use "I" statements to express your thoughts and feelings, and avoid sounding hesitant or uncertain.

*Be prepared: Come to the conversation with facts and figures to back up your points, if needed.

*Stay on topic: Stick to the topic at hand and avoid getting sidetracked by unrelated issues.

*Listen actively: Show that you are listening by nodding, making eye contact, and asking questions.

*Show respect: Speak to the other person in a respectful and professional manner.

*Timing is key: Choose a good time to talk when the other person is likely to be more receptive and when there is no background noise.

*Be persistent: If you are not heard at first, don't give up. Be persistent and reiterate your point of view.

*Seek support: Bring a friend or family member with you to a conversation, they can help you make your point.

*Find common ground: Try to find common ground with the person you are speaking to, and build on that.

*Be open to feedback. Listening actively is important but also use your words to show that you are open to what is being said at your meeting.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The symptoms of bowel cancer can vary, and they may not appear until the cancer is advanced.

Some common symptoms include:

*Persistent abdominal pain, discomfort, or cramping
*A change in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea
*Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
*A feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation
*Fatigue, weakness, or a loss of appetite
*Unexplained weight loss
*A lump or mass in the abdomen

It's important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, not just bowel cancer. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

It's also worth noting that some people with bowel cancer may not have any symptoms at all. This is why regular screenings for colon cancer are recommended for people over 50 or those with a family history of colon cancer.

Thoughtful gifts for people with colorectal cancer

Further reading

Taking a Camper-Van Road-Trip Facing Advanced Lung Cancer & Radiotherapy.

The Story Of A Remarkable Lady Diagnosed With Stage 4 Bowel Cancer

I’m Not My Cancer: Not Just A Breast Cancer Survivor!

Cancer Is Like A Car, Its Everywhere When You Choose To Look

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