David McVey, 58 from Glasgow noticed that he was having trouble going to the toilet and that there was blood in his poo. Prompt action from both David and his GP meant that he is still around to tell his story of going through a bowel cancer diagnosis.
I noticed that there was blood in my poo
“In October 2019, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. This all started after I noticed that there was blood in my poo. I was also finding it increasingly difficult to go to the toilet and I was rapidly losing weight. I lost around 7 stone in total. I went to my GP who referred me for tests and that’s when I found out.
“After I was diagnosed, I really started having trouble with going to the toilet because of the obstruction from the tumour. I had surgery to create an ileostomy (a stoma from the small bowel) to bypass the tumour and relieve my blocked bowel. This is what I think saved my life.
I thought I was one of the lucky ones
“After surgery for my ileostomy, I started chemotherapy on Christmas Eve. For me, chemotherapy went pretty smoothly and the only real side effects I had were hiccups and acne. I thought I was one of the lucky ones until I was heading into hospital for my second operation and I got a phone call to cancel it, as all the beds were taken up with Covid. This meant that my surgery ended up being postponed until August 2020.
“Whilst I was waiting for surgery, I had to undergo radiotherapy to stop the tumour from growing any larger. Eventually, I underwent my 15 hour surgery to remove the tumour and when I came round, I was told that they had to create 2 stomas – a colostomy and a urostomy, as they had to remove my bladder. I was told that the colostomy could be reversed after I had recovered from the surgery.
“Some time later, I had another surgery to reverse my colostomy, which would leave me with just a urostomy. I was told that I would spend 5-7 days in hospital but I was allowed to go home after just 2 days as my new plumbing had started working and I was able to have a bowel movement. My reversal recovery went smoothly and is still working well to this day.
I’ve had great support all the way through my diagnosis
“I’ve had great support all the way through my diagnosis from my GP, to my family and especially my wife, who has been my rock all the way through and attended all my appointments. I feel great in my head, after beating cancer but my body tells me differently. I’m back laying floors in the building trade, I’m not as fit as I used to be but I’m still doing it.
I’ve become a bit of a preacher
“Talking about going to the toilet and poo used to be a no-go area, but now I’ve become a bit of a preacher when it comes to checking toilet habits. Now, I urge people to get checked out if their bowel habits have changed or if they’re experiencing any bleeding.
I got this tattoo to encourage others to ask me about my scars and urostomy, rather than just stare.
“I’ve been left with scars, but I am one of the lucky ones. I got this tattoo to encourage others to ask me about my scars and urostomy, rather than just stare.”
If you are experiencing any symptoms of bowel cancer which includes the following, then it is important to make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out:
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation) for 3 weeks or more
- Bleeding from the bottom or blood in your poo
- Pain in your stomach or unusual lumps/bumps
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue