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Sarah, 57

#auguts hard to talk about

For the first time in three years, I had a normal poo and I phoned up my Stoma nurse straight away. I was proud but relieved that something so normal had returned.

I started having issues in early 2018 and needed frequent trips to the toilet. I thought there was something wrong, but my doctor thought I had IBS and rearranged my diet, telling me to cut out dairy and meat, and for about six months things calmed down. But it came back with a vengeance in 2019 and by August I was referred to hospital.

I had a colonoscopy and scans, which revealed colorectal cancer. Even after they found the tumour, I hadn’t had many symptoms, apart from frequent trips to the toilet and feeling a bit tired and bloated. Apart from that, I felt quite healthy.

After the colonoscopy, an MRI and CT scan, I was convinced I was going to be dead by the weekend. I was frightened to go to sleep because I thought I was never going to wake up again. My doctor prescribed sleeping tablets so that I could sleep and get a bit of rest.

On the day of my diagnosis, the surgeon gave me two options: I could either have an elective normal surgery, or pioneering robotic surgery, which would cut the operation down from six hours to about two and a half.

There was a possibility I would end up with a colostomy bag, but I wanted anything that gave me the chance to heal, and the stoma being reversed would benefit me in the long run, so I went for keyhole surgery.

I had to have six weeks of combined radio and chemotherapy which finished in November 2019 I then had to wait until March 2020 for my surgery.

After my surgery I discovered I had a colostomy bag. I was discharged from hospital and three days later the country went into lockdown.

I affectionately nicknamed my bag Moaning Myrtle because of the noises she used to make. My stomach is now a bit misshapen, but they’re my battle scars and I’m proud of them.

After my colostomy was reversed, I was in Tesco and not able to get to the toilet in time and I literally went in the middle of the store – having little control of my bowel, you can imagine what happened next. The staff were wonderful. They took me to the toilets to clean up, gave me a change of clothes and told me not to bring them back.

After my reversal, for the first time in three years I had a normal poo and I phoned up my stoma nurse straight away. I hadn’t even pulled my underwear up and I told her it was about a foot long, like a Subway! I was very proud but relieved that something so normal that I hadn’t had for years had returned. I can still have explosive diarrhoea but I live with that. I used to make apologies for the noises my stomach was making but now I don’t worry about it.

I still have bad days when the fear overtakes me, but I deal with it and remain positive. It’s never got to the point where it’s beaten me. People need to know that cancer isn’t a death sentence, and you can have a very positive life.

After my reversal my life changed. I was determined that cancer was not going to control me, and that’s exactly what I’ve been like for the two and a half years since.

I got involved with Bowel Research UK because I want to liaise with doctors and patients to help further research and understanding of the disease where I can.

If it helps anybody else in the future, I’m all for it I am even starting to write my first book about my experiences good and bad, funny and sad.

My best friend says that no matter what life has thrown at me I always bounce back and she has affectionately nicknamed me Tigger.

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Explore the #auguts campaign 2023

#auguts stories

We’re highlighting topics that are difficult to talk about and research that’s hard to fund. Read and watch stories from bowel cancer and bowel disease patients and researchers.


I was born 8 weeks premature with Intestinal Malrotation. My understanding is they weren’t sure what was causing me the pain as a newborn, being premature too. When surgery was eventually done it was found my bowels had twisted. Corrective surgery was done. I was christened in the hospital as it wasn’t looking great.

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I have diverticular disease on the right side of my body and I believe only a few people have it on this side.

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Frank McDermott

Mr Frank McDermott is a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Cancer lead for the Genomics Medicine Service Alliance in Southwest England. His grant with Bowel Research UK why some patients with diverticulitis experience serious complications such as blood infection, while others have milder disease. 

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Share your #auguts story

Join the #auguts campaign by sharing your own story via video or the written word! We are looking for videos and stories about difficult conversations people have had about their bowel condition, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, or anything else related. Our Patient and Public Involvement Manager Sam Alexandra Rose has created her own video as an example, which you can see below to give you some ideas.

Your video or written story will appear on our website and be shared on our social media channels. Please include your social media handles if you feel comfortable with us tagging you when we share your story. Videos may be edited slightly, for example by adding captions or putting several videos together, or adding our logo. Take a look at this guide for some tips on filming video on your phone. If you have any questions, email sam@bowelresearchuk.org.

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    Find out more about #auguts 2023

    We brought some of our patients, researchers and our CEO together to talk about what makes bowel disease hard to talk about and hard to fund. Watch them share their stories and join the campaign.

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