Bowel cancer survivor urges others to get screened for early signs of killer disease

Bowel cancer survivor urges others to get screened for early signs of killer disease

by Tom Martin (April 2022)

A FORMBY woman who overcame bowel cancer after doctors only gave her a 10% chance of survival, is urging others to be aware of the early signs of the condition.

Erica Squire went through chemotherapy and then surgery to remove five tumours that were found on her liver.

She said: “My prognosis wasn’t good and I was put on palliative chemotherapy, but despite the odds I am still here, after a very long battle.”

Erica responded to her chemotherapy treatment better than expected and was referred to a specialist at Aintree Hospital after her tumours had shrunk enough to be able to operate on.

In January 2018, she had part of her bowel removed and the tumours removed from her liver, followed by further chemotherapy and surgery. All of her scans to check for cancer have since been all clear.

Erica said: “When I was diagnosed I had a 10% chance of survival and I went through two rounds of chemotherapy. This had a huge impact on my mental and physical health, but this can be avoided if the disease is caught early. Everyone should go for screening as soon as they are eligible, and if you have any symptoms at all, get them checked out.

“There is a lot I have learned in hindsight. I now realise that there were signs that I ignored. I was tired a lot in the six or seven months before my diagnosis. I wasn’t yawning as though I wanted to go to bed, it was a general weariness and heaviness and I felt worried, but I dismissed it.

“I had been to the doctor the previous year when I had passed a bit of blood. She offered to examine me and I said it wasn’t necessary. In hindsight I should have had it investigated further.”

Dr Graeme Allan, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said: “NHS bowel cancer screening is available to everyone aged 60 or over and 56 year olds. If you are also eligible for bowel cancer screening, make sure you complete your home test every two years when it gets sent out to you.”

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms, which Erica urges other residents to look out for: a persistent change in bowel habit and pooing more often with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy pain; blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) - this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids; abdominal pain; discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating.

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