Tuesday 28 Jan 2020
I wanted to take part in the Great Women's 10k because there was a time when I thought I might never be able to do it again.
I was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in February 2013.
I had none of the typical symptoms of bowel cancer, so when in January 2013 I started being violently sick for hours at a time doctors put it down to a sudden bout of food poisoning.
Three weeks later the vomiting began again and this time I was taken into hospital and tests revealed a blockage in my bowel.
I felt so ill and was in a lot of pain – I’d been vomiting for five days and couldn’t eat or drink – so when the consultant told me I had a tumour, I was almost relieved that finally, we knew what it was. I just wanted them to get on and fix it so I could feel normal again.
After my surgery to remove the tumour and two-thirds of my bowel, I slowly recovered in the Victoria Infirmary’s high dependency ward. However six days later, I fell ill with peritonitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen, and to make matters worse I also had pneumonia.
A second emergency abdominal operation followed and I had to have a stoma bag put in place.
It was a huge blow, a real step backwards for me. I was exhausted and still couldn’t eat normally. After a week or so a nurse helped me into the shower to wash my hair, just to try and make me feel a bit better, however the sheer effort completely exhausted me and I ended up having to have a blood transfusion.
A few days later I received another devastating blow with the news that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and I would need chemotherapy. It was such a shock and very difficult to tell my children, Lucy, 16 and Adam, 14.
I slowly started to recover after spending 29 days in hospital (two and a half weeks in the high dependency ward) and I began chemotherapy in April 2013.
My drama was still far from over. After returning home following further surgery, pouches containing septic fluid developed on my abdomen and I fell seriously ill at home. Despite everything I’d already been through, that was the sickest I’d ever felt. The night before I was readmitted to hospital was the worst. I was genuinely terrified that I wasn’t going to survive.
However once again I recovered, and after three weeks in hospital and on the 23 December, I was discharged.
It was a nurse who first suggested to me that I might benefit from a visit to Maggie’s. At first I thought why on earth would I want to go there? It’s full of sick people. I hadn’t quite come to terms with my cancer diagnosis. But when I walked through the doors of Maggie’s Glasgow, I thought – why have I not come here before?
The support groups at Maggie’s, like the Look Good Feel Better beauty workshops, were a huge help. They were fantastic – we had such a laugh and I made so many friends.
The support I received from Maggie’s was invaluable. You can talk to people, without feeling guilty that you are upsetting them, or scaring them. It’s much easier to cry too.
Now that I’m through and on the other side, I couldn’t just say thanks and walk away. I want to help others the way Maggie’s helped me and my family.
I took part in a 10k run with my family and friends in June 2016 and it was a really special day. I raised £7,260 and I am absolutely over the moon as I had a target of £2,000. I joined the volunteer fundraising board at Maggie’s Glasgow and as a community speaker, I have attended events and workshops to share my story.
So many people did so much to help me that being able to give something back by volunteering for Maggie’s is the least I can do.
After a clear scan, I decided to take part in the Great Women’s 10k 2016 in honour of Maggie’s. I hate running, but I wanted to do it because there was a time when I thought I might never be able to do it again.
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