2 April 2024

By Dan Frost, Bowel Research UK supporter

My world fell apart in December 2021 when I lost my wife to bowel cancer. Lisa was just 43. It was devastating having to tell my teenage son and eight-year-old daughter that their mum was gone.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and I want to share our story in the hope that, by raising awareness of the symptoms, we might help someone diagnose their cancer earlier when it is often easier to treat.    

We first knew something was wrong in Nov 2019 when Lisa started suffering from horrendous pains in her stomach. She saw our GP several times, but no tests were done. In January and February 2020, we ended up taking Lisa to A&E many times – she was vomiting, sweating and trembling with pain. After being sent away a few times with paracetamol and medication for irritable bowel syndrome, the pain worsened and she was finally admitted at the end of February. 

On 1st March 2020, Lisa had an emergency operation to remove a large section of her bowel. The tumour had burst through most layers of her bowel – her surgeon said she would have had only hours left, had it burst through and flooded her body with toxin from her bowel.  

Recovery from the operation was tough but chemotherapy was even tougher. Lisa’s body reacted badly to the medication, leaving her with damage to her heart. It was a full year before her heart was strong enough for her to be able to walk and jog again.  

Despite things looking more positive in March 2021, in May that year the results of a scan revealed there was secondary cancer in her liver, and she was told it was incurable. Lisa went into hospice care in November 2021 and passed away there five weeks later. 

Before she died, Lisa posted on social media urging people to be aware that bowel cancer could happen to people her age, sometimes without the traditional symptoms of blood in poo or changes in poo habits.  

She said: “Make that appointment, get that check. I feel like I am being stalked and every day I wake up grateful. Who knows what my future holds but I am making the most of every minute with my family. I will certainly be doing the same with friends as soon as it is safe.” 

Lisa was grateful for the time we had together after her diagnosis and was always keen to share her story to raise awareness, not for sympathy. She said: “I am not brave, I am lucky. I had to get on with it, but I was lucky to get the chance to.” 

Since then, I’ve raised nearly £14,000 for Bowel Research UK through the London and Brighton Marathons, Thames Bridges Trek and even a Tractor Road Run, and I’d like to thank everyone that has supported and donated towards the vital fundraising efforts in her memory. Bowel Research UK funds life-changing research into bowel cancer and other bowel diseases. Every year over 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK and over a million suffer from bowel disease. By fundraising for research into cutting edge treatments and investing in the best science, we can help save and improve people’s lives.