Tuesday 7 June 2016

Young Survivors Week: Recognise the symptoms

OK I may have got a little over-enthusiastic in my first post about Young Survivors Week, I went off on a big waffle about checking yourself, and knowing the symptoms, but I should have saved it for day 2!

Never mind, its such an important message it bears repeating.

Here is what Bowel Cancer Australia have to say:
Signs of bowel cancer may include: 

  • blood in the bowel movement
  • unexplained weight loss 
  • persistent change in bowel habit 
  • severe abdominal pain

If you’re experiencing pain, bleeding or other symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.
Nobody knows your body better than you, so be aware of any changes and don’t assume bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids. 

Young people with a family history of bowel cancer, irrespective of symptoms, should see their GP as soon as possible for individual advice about surveillance.

But here's the thing, you might not get ANY of the above symptoms. 

Here's what was happening to me, I can recognise it looking back, but at the time I was completely oblivious.

I was getting mild abdominal pain a bit too often. So mild I was able to fob it off on something else. "I must have eaten too much, must have eaten too late, must have eaten something funny (I eat a lot!), must be an irregular period pain etc". 

It's entirely possible that the pains I was feeling was not the tumor, but constipation caused by the tumor. That means if you have a tumor that isn't causing much of a blockage, you might not feel anything!

I was also sleeping more and more - as if I was depressed, except I wasn't depressed, in fact I was utterly high on life in mood. I  told myself I was lazy, slobby, or perhaps I've got a little bug - sleep is very restorative after all, I even tried to embrace it a little seeing as I couldn't seem to snap out of it (ah, treating myself to another lie-in) Never mind I couldn't get out of bed if I tried. I don't think I'd ever been fitter, I was exercising a lot, but it didn't seem to give me any more energy, as being fit is supposed to.

I gained a bit of weight (I must stop snacking on toast when I get home from work). Then I got a pot belly (LOL look at me, I really must review my eating habits) Then I lost a bit of weight (I must be doing something right, perhaps the exercise has started to pay off).

So many small insidious little things, so easy to ignore. So easy to dismiss as something minor, dismiss as nothing, stop being a wimp. I've had chronic joint pain since I was 15. So I've been practicing ignoring pain for 18 years.

So keep a close eye on yourselves everyone! It's easy to loose track of how long a 'niggle' can go on for - mine had been going on for months. I'd suggest making a note in a calendar or diary when you feel 'off' in some way.

Early detection makes a HUGE difference in prognosis. If you feel like sharing your tips for keeping tabs of your health I'd love to hear it!

I hope I haven't scared anyone - definitely not my intention. If I have caused any paranoid feelings the best thing to do is talk to someone about it. You're welcome to get in touch with me if you like. Or your GP - or just anyone! And remember, chances are you are fine, chances are the niggles everyone gets from time to time are just that BUT peace of mind is a wonderful thing, so if any of this has disturbed your peace of mind, please go get it back with some health checks.

1 comment:

  1. Your own story is such a great pointer for others. As you have shown, not everyone gets all of the textbook symtoms. So being aware and alert is all you can suggest. Good job x