Call for more people to know symptoms

Lynn Haveron.
Lynn Haveron.

The charity Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer commissioned a YouGov survey to gauge awareness of the symptoms of Northern Ireland’s third most common cancer.

In April alone 93 people in Northern Ireland will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and 34 people will die of the disease. Being aware of key symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives, but only around 15% of people are diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease.

Lynn Haveron (54) from Newtownabbey was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer when she was 52. She said: “I was constantly feeling very ill with cold and flu-like symptoms, I had tummy aches and I was losing weight. When I started bleeding my GP sent me for tests.

“I took a picture of the blood that I was seeing and showed it to a different doctor, who straight away referred me for a colonoscopy. This was when I was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer and it had spread to my pelvis. I had five weeks’ worth of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I then had surgery to have a stoma put in.

“My life has totally changed and living with a stoma can be difficult. However the way I see it is I’m alive and every day is so precious to me. I live every day like it’s my last and do things I’d never have done before.”

To help you raise awareness of bowel cancer, the charity is giving away free copies of their handy symptoms guide for you to share with your family and friends. Sign up now to receive your free guide here: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/symptomsguide