Pam’s Story

I wanted to let people know how I became involved with Stoma Hero’s so here is my journey so far.

I had over several months been finding blood on the tissue after doing a poo, I just put it down to piles, having had kids and having a skin disorder, lichen sclerosis, it didn’t really worry me. I went to the doctors a couple of times and was told that I did indeed have painful piles. Oh well that is just part and parcel of being a woman. However in October 2019 I was bleeding a lot more every time I went to the toilet and alarm bells started ringing. Off to the doctors I went thinking I must get this sorted. After an examination I was told by the doctor that she could feel a mass. I just sat there feeling numb, how could this be happening. I was then referred on a 2-week referral to Yeovil Hospital to see a consultant.

At my consultation the consultant felt the mass and said he thought it was a polyp which felt soft to the touch and on a stalk so could well be benign, but I would need a sigmoidoscopy and probable surgery to remove it. The sigmoidoscopy revealed I had a few polyps which were removed but one polyp was 5mm and looked suspect, so surgery was needed quickly.

I had the surgery in November 2019, thinking it was just a polyp, couple of hours surgery, and I would be home the next morning. This was not the case. Several hours in surgery and the polyp along with its focal of cancer was removed as well as part of my rectal wall. My stay in hospital was to be a few days and then follow up treatment.

At my follow up appointment, I was given the news that it was cancer but that it had been caught early (stage 1) and had been removed but because it was at a stage 3 within the stage 1 it meant that it was very close to being a stage 2 cancer. I was in complete shock. The cancer had been removed but there is always risk with Cancer, mine was a 15 to 20 % risk that it may have spread but there were no physical signs and 80 % chance things could be Ok.

I had 2 options neither of which were great.

  1. Have my rectum and anus removed and be left with a colostomy bag for life with no chance of a reversal, which would mean that cancer in this area was definite but still could be elsewhere or they could find no signs of cancer and it would be done with no gain to me.
  2. Go to Bristol and see if radiotherapy /chemo was an option. Turns out this was not an option for me as the cancer had been removed so there was no tumour to target.
  3. Surveillance every 3 months for at least 2 years to check for any signs of cancer in any part of my body. This would involve 3 monthly sigmoidoscopies, CT scans and MRI scans. Plus numerous blood tests and annual colonoscopies.

This was the point where I started researching my options and was introduced to Stoma Hero’s so that I could meet and talk to people living with a stoma.

I have decided to chose option 3 as I know that should anything rear its ugly head it will be caught quickly and at that point, I can have surgery for a colostomy. It really helps me to be part of this group as I no longer feel a dread about what could happen, and I will have people to support me and help me. I have made a new set of friends and they are all lovely. They make me feel humble when I listen to all their stories, a remarkable group all fighting but determined to get on with life no matter what it throws at you.

The one thing this has taught me is to take each day at a time and try to be positive even when its hard going. Also remember you need to look after yourself so that you can look after those you care for.