Cancer wasn’t in the family, I didn’t think it would get me


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If something doesn’t seem right, see your doctor straightaway!

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Beating Bowel Cancer by Tim Darvell


 My story

It started with a dull and constant pain by my right lower rib. I was losing weight too, and it wasn’t down to diet or exercise. I knew something wasn’t right, so I went to see my doctor. My doctor sent me for an ultrasound scan, which was really quick and painless. This identified a swollen gallbladder and my doctor referred me to a consultant.

It was a couple of weeks later I saw a consultant at the hospital. I still had the pain and was losing weight. The consultant referred me for an abdominal CT scan and gastroscopy. The gastroscopy, where they put a tube down your throat, took about 15minutes and came back clear. During the CT scan I kept thinking, this can’t be cancer, it’s not in the family.

I saw the consultant the following week for results. I had a bad feeling and my wife was keen to come along with me. There was a consultant and a couple of nurses to break the news to us, they had found ‘something’ on the ascending colon, and would have to remove my gallbladder. They said it was about four centimetres but couldn’t yet confirm if it was cancer or polyp. It felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

The nurses were really supportive and took me for further tests – a blood test, colonoscopy and CT scan of my chest (to check my lungs). The CT scan came back clear. The colonoscopy confirmed it was cancer.

Cancer wasn’t in the family, so I didn’t think it would get me. And bowl cancer? I was only 48 when diagnosed, usually it affects people over 60.

I had an operation to remove both my ascending colon and gallbladder. The thickening of the gallbladder wasn’t related to the cancer, but they said both should be removed. The surgery took over four hours.

Post-op tests confirmed the cancer was stage one – it hadn’t spread and I didn’t need chemotherapy. I feel very lucky to have had it diagnosed and treated so early. I can’t thank the NHS teams enough, they are fantastic! I also am very lucky to have my wife support me through it, I’m glad I was open with her from the beginning.

My final third year check has just come back and I’m in the clear. It feels so good to say that.

Please, if you are reading this and think something doesn’t feel right, go see your doctor. At the very first sign – go!