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I'm Carole, living in London, happily married and mum to two amazing boys.I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer in April 2010. Surgery took place in November 2010 and I now have a permanent colostomy...Spinal mets were then diagnosed in October 2011...In January 2012 I was told of further spread to the hip area (multiple lesions)..My life expectancy is now 6-9 months. Walk alongside me on the last part of my experience with this..

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Be Clear On Cancer Campaign.......


The Department of Health have just started a 7 week pilot scheme to attempt to make people more aware of Bowel Cancer. This pilot is initially going to be aimed at two areas in the UK, the East and South West and if they feel it was successful they will then roll it out nationwide.

I've decided to feature it here on my blog for obvious reasons.

Health Minister Paul Burstow said:

“No one likes talking about their poo – it’s embarrassing. But if we see something different and tell our GP it could save our life.

“Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to cancer survival rates and bowel cancer is one of the biggest killers.

That’s why the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign uses simple messages to make people aware of the early signs of bowel cancer and to give them the confidence to talk to their GP about them.

“To make sure we get it right, we’re testing this campaign in two regions and, if it works, we’ll roll it out nationally.

My only 'gripe' with this campaign is the age range it is targeted at....currently they are aiming to get more over 55's aware but I want EVERYONE to be aware.

The simple facts are this - Bowel Cancer affects approximately 38,000 people per year in the UK.

75% of people fall into the over 60's age group which means that approximately 9,500 people may feel 'This doesn't affect me, I'm too young'....Harsh reality is it COULD affect you so if you have symptoms you need to get them checked.

I was 49 when diagnosed with Rectal Cancer, Stage 3 - my surgeon estimated that my cancer had been growing, silently without obvious symptoms, for anything up to 8 years...that made me potentially around 41 years old when it began. Screening me at 55 would simply have been way too late.

There is no plan to screen earlier but if people notice symptoms then they MUST contact their GP and insist on being checked over.

My message is simple 'If in doubt about it, shout about it'......

If you have any of the higher risk bowel cancer symptoms listed below for more than six weeks you should visit your GP:

  • Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding) without any obvious reason. If you have other symptoms such as straining, soreness, lumps and itchiness the problem is likely to be piles but it’s still important to get this confirmed by your GP
  • A persistent change in bowel habit especially going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser stools for several weeks
  • Abdominal pain especially if severe
  • A lump in your tummy
  • Weight loss and tiredness (signs of anaemia)

Please remember that most of these symptoms will not be bowel cancer, but to rule it out you must first visit your GP.

Reliable information available from www.beatingbowelcancer.org

Finally, if you're in the East or South West areas - let me know if you've seen this advertising campaign yet and what you think about it - ie; is it effective; the right message; enough information; too much information; embarrassing; all comments welcomed......

Look after those bowels and 'if in doubt, give the GP a shout'.


  1. I definitely agree with shouting about any major issues that arise in "that" area. We too are frustrated with the lack of a younger focus. We are told colorectal cancer can start as a polyp, or simply as cancer. If a polyp, my wife's tumor found at the age of 32 could have been growing for around 15 years, with no past family history. Our children definitely now do have a family history and will need to start getting checked by the time they are 20 years old.

    Point being, nobody is "too young".

  2. Good on you and hopefully the message will soon be Nationwide!!!
    Lots of love,
    Paula xx

  3. Thanks Paula,
    I figure if just one person sees this and then gets checked over, it's worthwhile.

    Crabbymonty - I often think of your wife when 'age' is being discussed with regard to colon/rectal/bowel cancer, and also Loopy here in the UK who was also only in her 30's when diagnosed - along with others, all who fall under the 'recommended age' for checks :-(

    As much as I think this campaign *is* worthwhile and a great idea I still think that somewhere along the way the message needs to be:-
    'You DON'T need to be 55+ to get the UK's 3rd most common cancer' (2nd most common cancer for women).

    Younger people will see this campaign, they will look at the posters and decide it's only relevant to 'older' people.
    I want *everyone* to be aware, I want people to understand that it 'could' be you - so just check out any unusual symptoms.

    Be thinking of you two tomorrow and hoping you get some answers to your next steps xx

  4. 'ello.

    Yes, I've seen the advert. I'd seen it once without actually realising it and then when I saw it a second time after reading your message, the lightbulb went on upstairs!! (Yes, I know: *sigh*)

    It's actually pretty good. It says what the first poster says about the need to tell your GP if you've had blood in your poo, or it's been looser, for the last 3 weeks. It's a 'talking heads' style advert and whilst, yes, all the people featured are older, nowhere does it overtly say "if you're over 55", so I'd probably take notice if it applied to me. That said, if I were in my 20's or 30's, it might very well go straight over my head.

    Love you, you (sometimes grumpy) old bat! If the decorators have finished and it's safe to leave home for a few hours, might be heading your way next week. Haven't seen Dizzy for ages!!


  5. Hi Lou,

    Yes would be great to catch up at last...Dizzie is sort of all grown up now, lost his little kitteny look but still just as gorgeous :-)

    Thanks for the feedback on the ad, I'm hoping that people do take notice if they have any symptoms but I'd really like to see a campaign aimed directly at slightly younger people too.

    When I first had symptoms I googled and based on my age (and the exact symptoms) worked out that it wasn't much to worry about!!! It was way more likely to be 'piles' (if only eh...)

    Hope to see you next week, or the week after or whenever you can get away.
    Much luv as always xx