"Bowel Cancer. It changed my life, now I'm trying to raise awareness of both the general public and health professionals"

About: Medway Maritime Hospital

(as a volunteer/advocate),

Diagnosed with advanced bowel and rectal cancer 18 months ago by accident, surgery to remove all large colon and most of rectum, now have permenant ileostomy. Chemo for 6 months, thankfully rid me of secondary tumours on lung and most on liver, had RFA 6 weeks ago to get rid of last tumour on liver. CT scan last week to check success, result next Friday.

Work with Beating Bowel Cancer to raise awareness of symptoms, answer questions on forum and am a patient voice.

Was asked by my stoma nurse at the hospital where I am treated to speak to groups of nurses at seminars (it is a teaching hospital) about what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer, living with it, having surgery and treatments, my fears about them and most of all what it was like on the ward, how I was treated and what improvements could be made to better patient experience, also I commented on good practises. The day was very successful, I was very frank about bad hospital practises where cancer is concerned. I had posted on the forum wall I write on for people to tell of their experiences good and bad, to add to the talk as my experience on the wards was mostly good. I had told the nurses (all on refresher course, so varying experiences) that they could ask me questions on anything as they wouldn't embarass me and was amazed at the response, they said they were always hesitant in asking cancer patients questions as it was difficult to gauge how they would react. Had many come up to me after the session saying how much they'd learnt. One sister was going to change a couple of things on the ward after listening to my experience.

That day they had had 5 different lectures and on the feedback sheet, mine was the one they got the most out of. I am so happy, I've been asked to go every 3 months to do the same talk to a different set of nurses.

I would love to do this at any hospital, health centre, surgery that would have me, to speak to any group of health professionals/clinicians. They all do a wonderful job under a great deal of pressure, but few of them actually 'know' what we go through emotionally and the little things that make a lot of difference.

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