These pages list some members of the GICS group who have been kind enough to share their experiences on our website as a help to others who may be interested. All are happy to talk to new members about their experiences with GI Cancers. All members are contactable through the GICS group. If you wish to talk to someone who has gone (or is going) through a similar experience to your own, please email or telephone using the contact details for the group at the bottom of the HOME page.
Member Name - Bryan
Bowel Cancer Diagnosed 2008
I’d had Ulcerative Colitis for around 20 years and was told, when it was very first diagnosed, that I had a higher risk of developing bowel cancer and this risk would increase significantly after 10 years.
The specialists at the hospital kept an eye on my Colitis with regular blood tests and colonoscopies every couple of years and it was during one of these procedures, at the end of 2008, that a tumor was identified. Biopsies were taken and cancer was confirmed a week or so later at a meeting with the surgeon.
I think because each time I went for a colonoscopy I was half expecting to be told the worst, when cancer was actually confirmed it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Which I think astonished the medical staff who seemed to be expecting more of a reaction. But we all have our own way of dealing with these things. I had just one question for them; can you fix it?
More difficult for me was telling my family and friends. Again, everyone acts differently and I learnt a lot from the reactions I got when I told them the news.
Things moved pretty quickly after that. I was given dates for various scans and tests which were done very quickly and then the date of my operation was set for three weeks time. This gave me enough time to sort some business issues out as I knew after the operation I might be out of action for some time.
I was very lucky to be operated on by Professor Motsons’ team at Colchester General Hospital as they were experts in laparoscopic surgery (keyhole) and I was put on the enhanced recovery programme. Although I was warned that they may have to resort to traditional “open” surgery, everything went to plan and after my operation I had just a few small scars.
They removed most of my colon and joined the small intestine to my rectum. Three days later I was back at home, still quite sore but well enough to get about (gently). Unfortunately, I developed an infection in the scar at my belly button which meant a course of antibiotics but a few weeks later that had cleared up.
During follow up appointments at the hospital I was told that tests on the bits they had removed from me were clear of any signs the cancer had spread and while they would still keep a close eye on me, there would be no need to have chemo or radio therapy.
On the anniversary of my first year after having the cancer removed I was recalled for a CT scan and blood tests, both of which were negative for any cancer activity. I still have problems with Ulcerative Colitis which is active in the small part of the colon I have left and although I’ve will eventually need to have this removed too, for the moment it’s being treated with drugs and diet.
Update - November 2010. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, I needed to have the final little bit of my colon removed as Ulcerative Colitis was still active and could lead to another tumor. My option were to have the remaining colon removed and an End Ileostomy (stoma and bag) or for the surgeons to create an internal pouch from part of my small intestine (sometimes called a J-Pouch).
It was a difficult decision as there are pros and cons to either procedure. But, I finally decided to try for the pouch option. The surgical team were happy with this and so off I went for surgery. As it turned out, after several hours work the surgeons found that my body would not accept a pouch so the procedure was converted to a permanent ileostomy. I had previously agreed this would be ok for them to do during the operation if they felt it necessary, so was not too disappointed with the news when I was told.
In practice, the ileostomy is such an improvement over having ulcerative colitis that even now, just a few weeks after my operation, my standard of wellbeing has improved 100%. I’m still learning to manage my stoma and its appliances but the benefits of not having colitis anymore far outweigh these minor inconveniences.
This second procedure was carried out by Professor Motson and his fantastic surgical team at Colchester General. I was very grateful for their work on the first operation to remove my bowel cancer and now I am doubly indebted for their attention this time.
If you are going through a similar experience and wish to compare notes or have a bit more detail about my encounter, please feel free to contact me through the GICS group.