Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Bowel Cancer - A journey I never wanted to start

My bowel cancer journey started on Saturday June 19th 2010. I think everyone remembers the date of their cancer diagnosis, but for me it was extra significant, it was the day of my mothers death 3 years previously. I was diagnosed with 2 primary tumours in my bowel, one in my rectum and one about as far away as it could be in the ascending colon, after a colonoscopy my gall bladder surgeon had sent me for as I had complained of slight rectal bleeding for some time, "I'm as sure as I can be that it is piles and nothing sinister will be found" were his words and indeed what he put in his letter to my GP. My GP had also assumed it was piles when I had mentioned it, neither of them actually performed a finger examination to confirm their thoughts. I had also been to my GP several times complaining of 'very uncomfortable bloating' and very distended stomach, diarrhea that wouldn't go away and indigestion as well as the very slight rectal bleeding. All as I now know are classic symptoms of bowel cancer. I had of course 'googled' my symptoms and was scared to see that I had the symptoms of bowel cancer, but my GP had never mentioned the possibility and I certainly wasn't going to ask her if it was possible, in my books GP's didn't take kindly to patients self diagnosing.

I had the usual MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerised (axial) tomography) scans before the MDT (multi-disciplinary team) meeting to discuss me and plan my destiny. Fortunately the scans showed no spread to other organs, just a couple of tiny lesions on my lungs that were probably scars from a chest infection.
I met with my consultant who would perform my operation and decided that as bowel cancer is usually slow growing, I could safely postpone my operation for 6 weeks enabling me to attend my sons wedding at the end of August while I was well enough to enjoy it. My body had other ideas though. The grumbling gall bladder that had started off the diagnosis decided it was taking a back seat no longer and a week before my sons wedding, had me in so much pain I had no alternative but to go to A&E. Pancreatitis was diagnosed, which meant that one of the stones had lodged in one of the ducts from the gall bladder into the pancreas, not good! So I was admitted and was put on painkillers, drip, catheter and a water only diet until the stone dislodged. I spent the time in hospital organising last minute panics about the wedding and panicking myself that I would be unable to attend. My cancer surgeon came to see me, I was scanned, it was decided that after 6 days in hospital I could go home and attend my sons wedding as long as not a drop of fat or alcohol passed my lips between now and my operation in a weeks time! So 18 hours later on August 26th 2010 in the sunshine, after the biggest August storms Kent had seen for years, I watched my son marry his beautiful bride under a gazebo covered in sunflowers and hops. The day was wonderful, I was well, enjoyed every minute and the wonderful chef with 12 hours notice cooked me the most wonderful fat free meals during our 2 day stay at the venue.

Thursday September 2nd 2010 the day of my operation saw me entering the hospital at the crack of dawn as I was on the advanced recovery programme. My operation, a sub-total colectomy with formation of a permanent ileostomy from my small intestine and removal of the offending gall bladder was performed successfully by keyhole surgery and took 6 hours. I spent 2 days in HDU and was then removed to a surgical ward for the rest of my stay in hospital. Unfortunately, when I was told I was able to go onto solid food on day 3 post op, the only guidance I was given was that I could choose anything from the 'light' menu. Having been dieting sensibly and successfully for a year beforehand (for my sons wedding) and having lost 4.5 stone of the 8 stone I wanted to lose, I chose salad........ my first mistake, the salad had a lot of raw onion in it (I like onion!), radishes, tomatoes, cucumber all the things I now know one should avoid straight after bowel surgery! I was very ill for the next 3 days much to the puzzlement and disbelief of all the staff as I'd been making such a good and fast recovery till then, a lot of the nursing staff were ill informed about bowel surgery and diet and the more senior staff had no idea that this is what I'd eaten to cause such a bad reaction. Eventually my strength returned and was up and about again, I had mastered changing my stoma bags and amused the ward with the cacophany of sounds one small stoma could make, especially in the dead of night! I spent the days till my discharge having my hearing aid repair bag smuggled in and went around the ward servicing and repairing all the hearing aids of the pensioners on there, behind the backs of the nurses, and to the delight of all the deafened ladies who could now hear what their consultant was telling them! I was eventually discharged after 9 days and went home to be waited on hand foot and fingernail......................


  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog. Could you email me when you get a chance?


    1. Hi Cameron,
      Can you post your question on here? Your email does not show up in post replies and I have to be careful of spam as I'm sure you will understand.

      Best wishes, Alison

  2. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks...

    Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

  3. Thanks for this post. People who are having problem related to Ostomy as it could happen even after bowl cancer really need to be concerned about their health. They need to be more cautious regarding their eating habit and all other habits that can cause infection post operation. They must used the specialized cloths and medicines to reduce the pain.
    Ostomy Lingerie