Dad Uses Bowel Cancer Diagnosis to Encourage Others
- Richard Scott, a dad of two from Bristol, England, noticed concerning changes to his bowel habits and became extremely tired.
- He said doctors dismissed his symptoms for two years before he was finally diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer.
- Now, he’s urging others to pay close attention to their body and advocate for themselves when something is wrong.
- Scott’s earliest symptoms were fatigue and blood in his stool. He later experienced aches and pains and needed to use the bathroom more frequently.
- Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
- Always advocate fiercely for your health; push for answers, experts tell SurvivorNet.
Richard Scott first sought a doctor’s opinion in March 2021 after noticing blood in his stool and feeling exhausted.Read More
#NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/8YTnJNH5OB— Richard Scott (@richscott42) April 26, 2023
“As the months went on my symptoms persisted, I trusted my GP’s advice and because they didn’t seem worried about my symptoms, I was reassured,” Scott, who works as the head of fundraising for a charity, told SWNS, according to the Mirror.
Then, in August 2022, he was finally diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer that had already spread to his liver.
Scott, who was two daughters, ages 6 and 10, with his wife Anny, has since had his tumor removed and is recovering as he shares his story in hopes to prevent others from having their cancer symptoms overlooked.
His story highlights the importance of early detection.
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“The last few months following my diagnosis have been a real mix of emotions. My treatment, particularly while trying to come to terms with my diagnosis and how the cancer was very advanced has been difficult, not just physically but also emotionally and financially,” Scott explained.
“We used to do everything as a family, go on holidays, trips, days out but that’s all on hold at the minute because of my illness.”
More Bowel Cancer Stories
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Scott explained that after he began noticing symptoms, he had tests done to check if he had inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that affects the intestines and can cause bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, according to Mayo Clinic.
At first, his results showed high levels of calprotectin (a protein in the stool that can indicate the presence of certain conditions or diseases), but further testing showed it to be normal.
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But in April 2022, Scott’s symptoms persisted, with additional aches, pains, and increased bathroom usage.
This time, testing showed high levels of calprotectin, which could signify cancer. He was then referred to a gastroenterology team and diagnosed months later.
A week on from my liver resection as part of my @bowelcanceruk treatment and sat in (my own) bed remembering how chuffed I was to see the girls when they visited in hospital.
Please do keep an eye out for those symptoms and get yourself checked. pic.twitter.com/w1ch440DW1
— Richard Scott (@richscott42) April 12, 2023
Scott has since underwent six months of chemotherapy and surgery to remove a tumor from his liver, as he awaits a potential surgery that would leave him with a stoma, also know as a colostomy bag.
“A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste (urine or faeces) to be diverted out of your body,” the Bladder & Bowel Community states.
As Scott continues to stay optimistic for himself and his family, he explained, “I face an uncertain future but am determined to give everything I can to fight this disease and spend as much time as possible with my family.”
“I can’t change what’s happened to me but as well as wanting answers I hope that my story can potentially help others by them being aware of the signs of cancer and accessing care as soon as they can,” he added.
“People mustn’t think they have to go through a cancer diagnosis alone as help and support is available.”
Treating Stage 4 Bowel Cancer
Richard Scott was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, which is a general term for cancer that starts in the large bowel. But we mostly use the term colorectal cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, depending on the location, in the United States.
NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center’s Dr. Paul Oberstein explained the goals of treatment for stage 4 colon cancer in a previous interview with SurvivorNet.
He explained that reducing the amount of cancer in the body and controlling it is the primary aim of treatment at this stage.
Dr. Paul Oberstein On Treatment Options For Stage 4 Colon Cancer
“When someone comes in with cancer that has spread outside the colon, it’s called stage 4 colon cancer or metastatic colon cancer,” Dr. Oberstein said.
“The primary goal of therapy, and we discuss this in great detail with patients and their families, is to manage the cancer, is to try to control the cancer, to turn it into what we call a chronic disease, so to prevent it from growing, spreading, and causing problems.”
He added that treatment options are complicated and will depend on someone’s unique circumstances. For stage 4 colon cancer, treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments.
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Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer might not immediately cause symptoms, but there are signs to look out for.
Below are possible symptoms of colon cancer:
- 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
It is important to note, however, that displaying some of these symptoms does not mean you have colorectal cancer. You could also have colon cancer and not display any of these symptoms.
Regardless, it is important to bring up any symptoms to your doctor should they arise.
Leading Experts Urge Us to Be Proactive
“If I had any advice for you following a cancer diagnosis, it would be, first, to seek out multiple opinions as to the best care,” National Cancer Institute Chief of Surgery Steven Rosenberg told SurvivorNet in a previous interview, “because finding a doctor who is up to the latest of information is important.”
As we highlight in several areas of SurvivorNet, highly respected doctors sometimes disagree on the right course of treatment, and advances in genetics and immunotherapy are creating new options.
Also, in some instances the specific course of treatment is not clear-cut. That’s even more reason why understanding the potential approaches to your disease is crucial.
At the National Cancer Institute, there is a patient referral service that will “guide patients to the right group depending on their disease state so that they can gain access to these new experimental treatments,” Rosenberg says.
Cancer Research Legend Urges Patients to Get Multiple Opinions
Furthermore, getting another opinion may also help you avoid doctor biases. For example, some surgeons own radiation treatment centers.
“So there may be a conflict of interest if you present to a surgeon that is recommending radiation because there is some ownership of that type of facility,” Dr. Jim Hu, director of robotic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, told SurvivorNet.
Other reasons to get a second opinion include:
- To see a doctor who has more experience treating your type of cancer
- You have a rare type of cancer
- There are several ways to treat your cancer
- You feel like your doctor isn’t listening to you, or isn’t giving you good advice
- You have trouble understanding your doctor
- You don’t like the treatment your doctor is recommending, or you’re worried about its possible side effects
- Your insurance company wants you to get another medical opinion
- Your cancer isn’t improving on your current treatment
Be Pushy, Be Your Own Advocate… Don’t Settle
Just remember, being proactive about your health could be a matter of life or death. Learn as much as you can from as many experts as you can, so that you know that you did your best to take control of your health.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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