I've lost four friends to bowel cancer in four days… please learn the 8 red-flag signs to stop this disease ruining lives

THERE are tough weeks in life.

And then there are weeks where you don't know how you will get through each day.

You want to run scared, scream about how unfair life is and just escape.

Escape from the agonising reality that's breaking your heart.

In the space of four days, four women I was lucky enough to call friends have died, all taken too soon by bowel cancer – the disease that's turned my life upside down.

None of their deaths were sudden but that doesn't make their loss any the less tragic.

'A heartbreaking week'

The heartbreak started last weekend when I got a message to say Laura Harris, a cancer nurse had died.

She was 42 years old and was only diagnosed with bowel cancer last January.

By Tuesday I had received three messages from the family members of three more friends, cancer pals I met online and with whom I shared highs and lows.

They were friends I had messaged just a week before, laughed with at recent events.

Friends who had gone out their way to get in touch, buy my book, listen to the You, Me And The Big C podcast and write me letters.

I'm heartbroken for them, their family and friends and the cancer communities they leave behind.

'Sad news reignites my fears… I'm a ticking timebomb'

We all get shaken when news like this comes. It reignites our own, deep-rooted fears.

It sends each and every one of us cancer patients – those living with it, those newly diagnosed, those in remission – in to a tail spin.

Surely it's not right that at the age of 37, I'm sending more "final goodbye" messages to people than "congratulations on the baby, new job, getting hitched".

In the space of four days, four women I was lucky enough to call friends have died, all taken too soon by bowel cancer

How did life get so raw, and so real? It's impossible not to ask yourself, am I next?

I'm forced to face the stark reminder that I'm a ticking timebomb.

I was diagnosed at a similar time to all four girls who have passed away – and our stories were similar, our diagnoses delayed.

Now they're not here anymore and that loss has sent me into a sad and deeply anxious place.

If they died, then I will too… right?!

'Every ache is sinister, every niggle another tumour'

I can't help but think cancer is invading every nook and cranny of my body, that there are tumours running riot in all my organs.

The reality is no one really knows if I will make it or not – the stats say I'm already outliving my disease.

Yes more people are living for ten years after diagnosis, but not everyone is that lucky.


BOWEL cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease, but it can be cured if it's caught early enough.

The Sun's No Time 2 Lose campaign is calling on everyone to learn the signs of the disease to help ensure it's picked up at the earliest opportunity.

Catch it at stage 1 and you have a 97 per cent chance of living five years or longer.

Catch it at stage 4, when it's already spread, and that chance plummets to just seven per cent.

The disease is most common in people over the age of 50 – and that's why The Sun put pressure on the Government and succeeded in helping to bring the screening age down from 60 to 50.

But, every year in the UK, around 2,500 young people are diagnosed with bowel cancer.

And while that number may seem small, it is gradually increasing due to unhealthy lifestyles, among other things.

That's why it's vital everyone, regardless of their age, learns the signs to watch out for.

If you are worried about any changes in your bowel habits, see a GP asap.

If like me, you're diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, you have a seven per cent chance of living for five years.

It's depressing but I try not to let it get in the way of my vow to live with cancer.

I'm still here trying to make the most of every day, albeit feeling a bit run down.

I'm hoping my CyberKnife treatment has worked and I'm in limbo waiting to start some more treatment.

With that comes the worry that I might be running out of options.

'Losing my friends leaves me angry'

It's not right that these young women have died.

In fact, I'm beyond angry. It's simply not fair.

It's not fair for these families to have to face this pain, the kids left behind.

How can we live in a world where cancer is still outsmarting us, despite the fact we have made huge leaps in terms of treatments and technology.

Things must change, we need to stop cancer wrecking lives.

While clever scientists work to find a cure, we can all do our bit.

The most important thing is to check your poo for the signs of bowel cancer.

And to put aside your embarrassment and go to see a doctor if you notice something is wrong. See the drop down symptom guide above to learn the key signs to watch for.

'Grief is a funny thing'

As I wipe my tears and learn to deal with grieving for friends I have lost, I realise it's a funny thing.

It hits when you least expect it.

It leaves you numb, crying and anxious. But it's important that we remember the good times too.

It's important to laugh when you can, ask for help when you need it and above everything be kind to yourself.

Be kind to yourself when you lose your temper, when you feel like you want to curl up in a ball and cry.

Be kind to yourself when you party too hard, drink too much and try to escape your life.

Go easy on yourself, you need to build all the strength you can in your legs to carry the enormity of what we face.

And take it all one step at a time.

My new book F*** You Cancer is available to buy now – and gives a brutally honest view of what cancer is really like – buy it here now


Source: Read Full Article