Warning as easily ignored symptom could be sign of bowel cancer

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A mum-of-two is urging people to visit their GP if they experience this ‘easily ignored symptom’ after being given her own life-changing diagnosis.

Christine Amyes, 61, wasn’t overly worried when she began using the toilet more than usual. However, she decided to book a GP appointment near the end of 2021. Although she showed no other symptoms, her doctor referred her for tests.

It was the night before Christmas at Wythenshawe Hospital when she was given the devastating news. Christine had bowel cancer – and she needed surgery urgently.

The mum, who lives with her husband Roy in Sale, went on to have her tumour removed before having a bowel resection, where part of the bowel is removed. As a result of the procedure, she is currently living with a stoma.

“I had been to the doctors and I wanted an answer as soon as possible, I just needed to know and unfortunately I found out on Christmas Eve,” the retired housing association director shared, speaking to the Manchester Evening News.

“They were reassuring and said it was early days and so we were hopeful of the treatment plans. It’s been a real roller-coaster, but my family have been my amazing support network and my four-year-old granddaughter Alex has kept all our spirits up all the way through; of course, she doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but she’s been wonderful.

“Before my diagnosis I was always very cautious and careful and planned lots of the future, but you don’t know what that future is and so I am much more about living for the here and now these days. That’s what I am trying to pass on to my family as well, to make the very most of every day.”

Inspired by the late ‘Bowel Babe’, Dame Deborah James, Christine, known as Chris, believes it’s vital more people talk about bowel cancer and its symptoms.

She said: “I followed Deborah James’ story and she was just so inspiring. The fact she has been able to raise awareness on a subject matter that is still so taboo has really helped me in my journey.

“It’s not a nice subject and the whole process is horrible, from tests to treatment and beyond but I feel we still need to talk about it more. If just one person gets checked because of something I’ve said, it will be worth it.”

On completing her treatment, Chris’s latest scan showed she is cancer-free, and now she is determined to do everything she can to help give hope to more families like hers.

She’s set to take part in the Manchester Shine event with ten members of her family including husband Roy, and her two daughters Helen, 35 and 31-year-old Sarah.

She said: “My experience means I understand the importance of Cancer Research UK’s work all too clearly. It’s thanks to the research that I am here today. Life is different now and it has its challenges getting used to the stoma and all of that, but I’m looking forward to being able to get together with my family and raise some money to give something back.

Bowel cancer: Dr Amir explains symptoms to look out for

“I owe everything to research into better treatments, so I hope that sharing my story will help inspire people to sign up for the Shine Night Walk. There really is no better motivation than knowing you’re helping to save lives. Everyone can take part at their own pace, it doesn’t matter if that’s a leisurely stroll, a lively stride or a full-on power walk. The most important thing is raising money.”

Manchester is one of just 19 locations across the UK selected to host a Shine Night Walk in 2022. The event starts at Castlefield Bowl at 7pm on October 15, when participants will take to the city’s streets, passing by Manchester landmarks, ‘in a fun and inspirational parade of light that – stride by stride – will help the charity get closer to beating cancer’.

Participants can choose to raise money for the area of research closest to their hearts – including bowel cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, brain tumours, children’s cancers and leukaemia. Or they can simply give their backing to Cancer Research UK’s overall work. To enter or volunteer, visit shinewalk.org .

Bowel cancer symptoms can often be easily dismissed or ignored with many putting symptoms down to changes to their body as they get older. Here are the signs to look out for, according to the NHS.

  • Blood in your poo
  • Changes to your bowel movements
  • Bloating or abdominal pain after eating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue

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