I’m aware of bowel cancer. Obvs. But I don’t fit the profile, do I?
It’s bowel cancer awareness month. The thing about awareness is that it doesn’t necessarily equate to action. And it’s action as well as awareness that Bowel Cancer UK are focusing on this month.
Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. The problem is that going to the doctor can feel like a faff for symptoms easy to attribute to other things…For example:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a tummy upset, piles, just your metabolism, busy life – we’re all a bit knackered, right?
Perhaps you check out the symptoms on a website. It may say something like ‘Most people with these symptoms (see below) do not have bowel cancer’. It will continue that you should still get checked out by your GP – but maybe you don’t really fit the profile of someone with bowel cancer…
You’re fit (ish) – or maybe you’re even very fit; you eat a balanced (ish) diet – maybe you’re a vegetarian or a vegan; maybe you’re young – 30s or younger, say. Maybe you like a few glasses of wine or beer or maybe not. But you are certainly not the classic profile of someone with bowel cancer.
So, what is the classic profile of someone with bowel cancer?
It’s a 35-year-old deputy head teacher who’s a bit of a fitness freak and a vegetarian… you can read more about her (you may have seen her on Breakfast TV yesterday, 1 April 2017) here
It’s a pharmacist in his early 50s who walks his dogs and is training to be a hypnotherapist – find out more about him here
It’s a 40-year-old teetotal knitting and sewing vegan who’s studying for a doctorate who blogs here
It’s a 39-year-old beautician who, as far as I’m aware (and you’re probably relieved to know), does not blog!
And it’s me. A 53-year-old woman (when diagnosed) who walks marathons and enjoys a madly busy life.
I am eternally grateful for trained medical professionals who do not find my body embarrassing, revolting or unapproachable. They just want me to be well.
If you are in the slightest bit worried about stuff to do with your bowel, don’t hang about: go to the doctor. Doctors are not embarrassed about putting a finger in your rectum to check you out, they do not find it an inconvenience to refer you for a colonoscopy, send you for blood tests, or get you to do poo sticks (not pooh sticks, that’s something else entirely!). And that’s another thing, if you are of an age where you receive the testing kit in the post (screening is for over-60s in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, over-50s in Scotland: yes, I know, not one of my friends listed above is over 60!), don’t put it to one side for later. Do it. Now.
Here is a list of possible symptoms you might experience:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy