I’m really pleased to say that I’ve had my three-year bowel cancer follow-up checks (a kidney function test, a CT scan and a flexi-sigmoidoscopy, plus a Covid-19 test thrown in for good measure!) and the conclusion was “no sign of recurrence”. That was a really nice way to end the winter.
I was assigned to a new NHS consultant this year (after my previous consultant retired during the Covid pandemic, last year) and his advice to me was “Now, get on with your life”. I’ll try!
The chance of bowel cancer recurrence after the three years of clear tests is small.
I’ll continue to be monitored through a six-monthly blood test and, if all remains well, I’ll have one more CT scan at five years (2023). At this point I’m very much hoping to be signed off. Although, I’ll continue to have annual flexi-sigmoidoscopies (camera inside) for as long as I have a rectum, because I have serrated polyposis syndrome. I’m getting quite used to that experience after camera number six – it’s not all that bad really.
ONE IMPORTANT THING I’VE LEARNED
The past three years have been traumatic at times and I’ve been haunted by something a well-meaning old man said to me in church. He said “of course, cancer never really goes away, does it”. It was a very difficult thing to hear and, at the time, I didn’t know the answer. But, I’ve since met and spoken with several cancer survivors (including a stage IV bowel cancer survivor of 12 years and counting) and it CAN go away.
While the media often gives us the negative cancer stories, the truth is that a cancer diagnosis is not always a death sentence. I think it’s a real shame that we don’t hear more cancer survivor stories in the press – there are loads of wonderful stories to be told.
I’m not a medic or a cancer expert, but I have had a cancer experience and I’ve listened to and read a lot about what various experts say about the disease. My understanding is that we all have the ability to get cancer and at least half of us will get it at some point in our lives. BUT I also understand that there are three things we can do to significantly decrease our chances of getting cancer and these are:
- Give your body good fuel (healthy food, drink and air)
- Keep stress in check – a particularly difficult one, but your immune system will not be happy if your body and/or mind are in a regular state of stress (getting good sleep is vital and it’s affected by stress)
- Exercise (not too little, but also not too much – see above!)
That’s the quick summary of what a lot of expensive books and talks have taught me. I hope it helps. Personally, I find it really challenging to be healthy and I’m still not great at the stress aspect. But, working hard at these three things has meant that I’ve never felt better and I totally recommend it. I’ll try to elaborate on each point above in future blogs.
Last September we finally managed to buy a home in Cornwall. We waited 19 months for what we thought was the home of our dreams, but sadly that didn’t work out. Then, rather annoyingly, just about everyone and their dog decided they wanted to move to Cornwall during the Covid-19 pandemic and house prices down here went totally mad. But, by some incredibly good fortune we managed to find an old smallholding that we could afford. It had been quite neglected and it’s been LOADS of work getting things set up to grow food, but we’re all loving it.
Finally, we’re in the process of trying to convert an old stable block into a small lodge, which we plan to offer as a retreat for young parents affected by cancer or motor neurone disease. More to follow on that one….
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful spring.
P.S. Our new home doesn’t actually have a loft, so I might have to rename this blog!