Bowel cancer survivor urges people to investigate any worries

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WE can all become tired at times, and it is easy to put it down to the stresses of modern life.

Kilsyth woman Betty Davidson did not think anything of her sudden fatigue. For her life had become slower paced after retiring as a cleaner in the old Kilsyth Police Station. She, however, went to her doctors thinking that she might be anaemic and unfortunately learned her condition was much more serious than she initially thought.

The 66-year-old explained: “I just felt a bit weak. I had just retired and I thought it was me being lazy. But I went to the doctor anyway thinking I might be anaemic. The doctor sent me to Stobhill Hospital for tests and I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.”

Betty was initially shocked by her diagnosis but she quickly overcame that to start her course of treatment.

She underwent surgery to remove the tumour in her bowel and attended chemotherapy sessions for eight months.

“I was shocked at the beginning when I learned I had cancer but when I saw there was people worse of than me, I just got on with it.”

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and all men and women aged 50-74 across Lanarkshire are being urged to take up the free bowel screening test in a bid to detect the disease early.

Although almost 4000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in Scotland, just over half (54.5 per cent) of those who are eligible to participate in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme actually do the test.

Nine out of ten people survive bowel cancer if it’s detected early and the best way to check for the hidden signs of bowel cancer is through screening.

Betty said: “I would urge anyone to do the screening test. The quicker you find out if there is something wrong, the better chance you have of dealing with it.

“I could not have got better treatment from all the doctors and nurses at Stobhill Hospital, they were just fantastic.”

The bowel screening test is quick and simple. After you have posted your sample the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre will send back the result within two weeks. Most people will have a negative result, which means that no blood was found in the samples provided. If your test is positive, you will be contacted by a health professional or your GP practice.

While the Screening Programme remains the best way to detect bowel cancer you should never ignore changes to your health.

Local people are advised to make an appointment with their GP if they spot any unusual or persistent changes to their bowel movements, even in between screenings.

For information on the screening programme, contact the Scottish Bowel Screening Helpline on 0800 0121 833 or visit www.bowelscreeningtest.org.