‘With what?’ you say, puzzled at the title of this blog. It seems like quite a simple though equivocal question; it is not intimidating, threatening or frightening. It causes no racing of the heart, no breaking out into a sweat and no visions of Kyron the Ferryman taking the dead to the underworld. Perhaps the word ‘sir’ has connotations of schooldays, the military or even an all-powerful boss, which may give the question an edge of potential hostility, but not fear.
Now try reading the title aloud, several times. Like one of those strange 3D Stereograms, where another image may be seen, repeating the question should bring out something entirely different. Some of those emotions I mentioned make sense now you are saying – Cancer Help? If you’re asking directions in a hospital for an elderly relative, the question will evoke sadness. If you are doing a web search to find out how long cancer-ridden Uncle Sam has before you inherit his fortune, it might evoke joy. However, if the enquiry relates to your own condition, it will almost certainly evoke dread.
The risks of being afflicted by some cancers, such as lung cancer will be dramatically lessened by not smoking; even belatedly ceasing the habit can be beneficial. Other forms present greater problems, like the deadly asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, which recently took a good friend of mine within six months of diagnosis, but should be almost eradicated by asbestos awareness and regulation.
However, I am writing here about bowel cancer, which for men and women grouped together gives the second highest mortality rate after lung cancer. (In between there are women's breast and men's prostate cancers.) The survival rate of many cancers improves with early discovery, but despite the entreaties of medical experts and charities, most people are their own worst enemies and discover that procrastination often kills.
Why am I writing this? In common with an earlier blog the answer is, ‘because I can!’ I can write this because I am still alive, having been diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2001. It should have been diagnosed in the April or May but wasn’t. I am disgusted, even furious with myself for not going to see my GP earlier. I had known since the February that something was wrong. Looseness, odour and pain shouted their presence, but I had done nothing. Then things insidiously worsened and post-loo-pooh inspections told me a visit to my GP was essential. You are probably thinking ‘ah yes, blood in the pooh...visit your doctor is what you do.’ We’ve all seen (or closed our eyes to) or heard (or closed our ears to) those adverts that are run periodically in the media and elsewhere. Simple isn’t it, see blood over several days/weeks and book an appointment – easy!
Well no, it’s not...in truth I believe that many people with bowel cancer fool themselves they’re ok because they don’t see blood. We all know what blood is...it’s that red stuff that oozes out when you cut yourself etc, isn’t it? Well, not always and particularly with bowel cancer where the red blood that seeps from a tumour will be digested like food in the intestines and appear in your loo as blackish and shiny. The further from your anus the darker it will probably be. But, do not let me lull you into a false sense of security; any red pooh could well be piles but could also be caused by a rectal tumour.
When I was awaiting surgery to remove part of my large colon, I asked all seven other men in our ward what their symptoms had been and while six had noticed pooh goo and some anaemia, one reported he just felt perpetually tired with no other symptoms. So, if you ‘know’ something’s not quite right, I leave you with two thoughts:
DON’T BE A FOOL...ALWAYS CHECK YOUR STOOL and
DON’T PUT YOUR LIFE IN HOCK...SEE YOUR DOC!
Bowel Cancer - I ask for any comments you might have on this blog, particularly from other victims and also from professionals that might want to correct or clarify anything I am saying.
4th November 2015
I am reposting this because it is now 14 years since my diagnosis, 14 years that I have enjoyed which others haven't...don't let bowel cancer shorten your life.
There is an old joke which doesn’t need spelling out here, ‘Why does a dog lick his…?’
‘Cos he can’, is the obvious answer. Now I was asked recently why I write and the answer is pretty much the same. Because I can, though he cannot.
No, not the dog, but my grandson. An oversight (I’ll be kind) by medical staff left him starved of oxygen on his way into the world and when he eventually made his entry, many of his brain cells had not survived. Now, as an eight-year-old, he is confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy. People such as him were once called ‘Spastics’; we now shy away from the derisory term which comes from the Greek meaning ‘broken’, even though most sufferers had no idea it was a word applicable to their condition. However, it was a word that had been distorted into a term of derision and generally hurled abusively at people who were not smitten by cerebral palsy. Like the ‘N’ word, we feel guilty that we once used the term as an insult and we now care for the victims of the condition with far more respect. Yet proscribing a word does not go far enough to help. Are we doing enough to reverse the damage, damage of the type that we see as being right and proper to be repaired for those injured in the service of their countries? My grandson is unable to walk, makes sounds that only mean something to his family and his greatest pleasure is eating, followed closely by watching Mr. Tumble on the television. That is his life and his parents have to deal with it every day.
I love him to bits as he is, but would give my right arm to see him doing the naughty things that most children his age get up to. I’d endure his judging me as a fat old fool not worth the time of day. I’d understand if he decided that he never wanted to see me again. I’d be happy if he made those decisions…in fact I’d just be happy if he could.
There has been much revealed about the advances medical science has made on restoring the damaged brains of soldiers in the Afghanistan conflict. Good luck to them, I hope that most will resume a full and active life. Yet these advances should percolate through to the many people unable to volunteer to serve their countries, unable to stand up, let alone be counted. I live in hope that one day my son will telephone and tell me that there is a new but proven surgery that will rectify my grandson’s injury, albeit he needs thousands of pounds for the treatment. Why do I, fast approaching those three score years and ten, need more than I have already?
So why do I write? I write because one day soon I trust I will have that telephone call and I hope I will be able to step up to the plate.
10th September 2015
At the end of December 2014, *Lewys' Hope* was the second blog I posted on my new newly created website and I still await that telephone call. It is his birthday in 10 days...this is why I am
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