A Bowel Cancer UK volunteer talks about her crucial early diagnosis and how she encourages others to take screening tests.
“No one ever wants to be told they have cancer. I felt absolutely devastated, and I was in total denial. And it was bowel cancer, the one that a lot of people don’t want to talk about.
If my cancer hadn’t been picked up early by the bowel cancer screening test that came through the post, it would have continued to grow and could have spread to other parts of my body. Taking part in the screening programme probably saved my life. Fortunately, it was diagnosed as a stage one cancer, which meant that it was treatable and curable.
I found out about the charity, Bowel Cancer UK, when I was recovering after the surgery and was seeking some information to aid my recovery. The website was looking for volunteers. I looked at all the ways I could get involved. In the end, I was trained up as a volunteer bowel cancer awareness speaker, and I’ve now given talks to all sorts of organisations. I’ve been to the Scottish Government, to the Department for Work and Pensions, to Deaf Connections.
I talk about my experience of bowel cancer, and I also give people information on how they can reduce their risk of developing the disease. Crucially, I’m also very passionate and almost evangelistic about encouraging people to complete their bowel cancer screening test and other ways by which they can reduce their risk of bowel cancer. It’s always such a great feeling when people tell me that they will now do their test as a result of hearing my talk!
I feel so, so lucky that I was picked up early, and I want more people to survive bowel cancer. Taking part in screening is so important, and I’m proud to be playing my part.”