Bowel Cancer on the News Saved Her Life
- Mom of two Charlotte Meddings, 33, was aimlessly watching a news program and it wound up saving her life.
- TV presenter Lorraine Kelly was talking about bowel cancer symptoms on her show, and it sounded all too familiar for Charlotte; She went and got checked and found out she had bowel cancer.
- Symptoms of bowel cancer can include a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days.
“I just had the telly on in the background while I was making some coffee after dropping the kids off, and Lorraine and a doctor were talking about looking for bowel changes,” she said, saying it jolted her because she had been “very constipated” for the past few weeks. “I didn’t have any idea why this was suddenly happening to me,” Charlotte, who lives in England, added.Read More
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After a colonoscopy, she found out she had a large polyp that was “too big to remove” and two months later, her medical team found a tumor.
“I was frightened but did my best to put it out of my mind so I could just get on being a mum and make sure the children didn’t know anything was wrong,” the UK-native said of her difficult diagnosis.
“I was stunned and the consultant seemed just as stunned—she kept repeating how young I was,” she recalled. “I’m a fit, healthy person; I do yoga, I eat well.
Charlotte underwent surgery and was over the moon to find out that they were able to get all of the cancer.
“I just cried tears of relief,” she said, overjoyed. “I still have to go for check-ups, but I am so, so grateful that I phoned my GP when I did. I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t had Lorraine on in the background that morning.”
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What Is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, but generally we use the term colorectal cancer – or colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on the location – in the United States.
Bowel cancer, like all cancers, presents its own unique challenges for patients on the road to recovery. But Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, wants to remind people how far the treatment of this disease has come.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Yeo says in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Dr. Yeo also reminds people of the importance of colorectal screenings such as colonoscopies because most colorectal cancers can be prevented early with screening.
“In the United States, on a national level, colorectal cancer has been decreasing for the last 20 years,” Dr. Yeo says. “And much of that is thought to be directly due to screening for colon cancer.”
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)
Colorectal cancer might not immediately cause symptoms, but these are possible symptoms to look out for:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss