I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years with the exception of 2 momentarily lapses of concentration. Once, 7 months pregnant, I found myself polishing off a spaghetti bolognese (must have been the hormones), and the other is when I couldn’t resist tartiflette up in the mountains – Jägermeister was clearly to blame! So apart from the odd nibble here and there (let’s just blame politeness and wine for those!), my insides have become accustomed to lots of fruit, vegetables, lentils, green juices and maybe a little too much cheese, chocolate and claret!
However, on the grand scheme of things, I’d consider myself pretty healthy. If you minus the days where I’d swing by McDonald’s for a quick egg Mc-Muffin en-route to school, my calorie intake was normal, my BMI was 19, I blasted my butt in high intensity workouts 4 times per week, never sat still at work (#teacherlife) and even my metabolic age was apparently 20! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting myself on a pedestal as some kind of green juicing goddess (😂😂), but at the same time I’m hardly your big butt mama!
I totally get why a GP would dismiss my self-diagnosis of bowel cancer especially in a neurotic hypochondriac such as myself.
“More than nine out of ten new cases (94%) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases (58%) are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But bowel cancer can affect any age. More than 2,400 people under 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year” Bowel Cancer uk
Key risk factors for bowel cancer include being over 50, having a low fibre diet, eating processed meat, being over weight, smoking and drinking:
So despite the alcohol, and maybe the occasional social smoking (better just to admit it!) I don’t really fit the profile of someone with Bowel cancer.
On that idle Thursday however, I came back sobbing to the day ward (maybe it was the gas and air!) proclaiming that I know ‘he’ found something – I mean I saw it too. You know there is an issue when the consultant asks ‘is someone here with you?’. Calmly the fantastic colonoscopist comes in and confirms my worst fear. That he had found a large tumour that I will need to have removed via an operation and whilst he can’t be 100% certain, it’s likely that it’s cancerous.
There is a sense of disbelief that happens when you are told you ‘might’ have cancer. A feeling that this is happening to someone else – not you. I mean ‘you’ were out parting two days ago, ran 5 miles yesterday, have a school to lead, have Christmas presents to buy – you don’t have time for cancer! It wasn’t in the plan!
Within the hour I was booked in to return to the hospital the next day for a CT scan, a MRI and a meeting with the surgeon – not what I had originally planned for my Friday night!
My husband and I left the hospital numb to embark upon the most surreal period and roller coaster of our lives. We drove straight to Lee and Sanderman and Sebastien in true ‘c’est la vie’ style, asked for the most expensive bottle in the shop – a beautifully rich, Leoville Barton 1996, and we proceed to polish it off as though armageddon was scheduled for 7pm the next day…..
Ps. For those of you worried about having a colonoscopy – don’t be. It’s not that bad. You have to drink a bit of bowel prep before hand, which affirms the belief that humans are in fact just ‘full of shit’ when it starts to work. It’s actually quite a comedy toilet show, and you’ll at least do your 10,000 steps for the day walking back and forth to the loo. For the actual procedure you have a choice of a sedative or gas and air. I went for gas and air as I felt I’d like wine afterwards – no other reason! The only time it hurts is when going around the corners – but breath deeply and the gas will give you the effects of 10 G&T’s in one go! For more information do check out: