Ron Kerr, 82, from Forfar, was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in 2013. Fortunately it was found in the early stages, and following successful surgery and treatment, he is in good health nine years on.
The retired housing manager first began experiencing symptoms in October 2013 when he went to see his GP about persistent constipation. He was prescribed a laxative but returned to the GP practice in November when his symptoms failed to ease. His GP then referred him for a colonoscopy which took place on Christmas Eve at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Ron said: “I was quite nervous beforehand and didn’t know what to expect, but the staff were very reassuring and helped me to relax. Before I left the clinic, a Nurse Practitioner sat down with me and explained that there was something there and it could be bowel cancer. It was a lot to take in and you automatically start to think the worst with these things.
“I knew that waiting for my test results would likely be a really difficult time, so I went over to the Maggie’s Centre in the hospital grounds for support. I am so glad I did as the emotional support and practical advice I received there was invaluable. I had further tests and appointments at the Oncology Day Clinic at Ninewells which confirmed I had bowel cancer. It was a scary time, but again the support and reassurance from the staff was a great comfort.
“When I met with my surgeon to discuss the best way forward, he told me ‘you are lucky, you have bowel cancer and we’ve found it early. I thought it was a strange thing to say at the time, but now I can see he was correct.”
The following month, Ron had key-hole surgery to remove the tumour. Tests confirmed it was stage 1 bowel cancer and he was advised to have a course of chemotherapy as a further precaution. In June 2014, he finished his treatment and was discharged, with tests and consultations required every six months for the next five years.
Ron said: “Of course I was really pleased to have finished my treatment but initially, I was really scared of the cancer coming back. However, I joined a mindfulness course at Maggie's, which really helped me get past this. Going to places like Maggie’s was definitely the thing that helped me most during my cancer journey, and I can’t recommend the support they offer enough to anyone going through the same thing. You get loads of helpful advice and you don’t feel like you’re dealing with it on your own.”
After five years of tests and consultations Ron was discharged from Ninewells. Nine years on from his diagnosis, he remains cancer free. On life today, Ron said:
“After my diagnosis, I decided it was important to look after myself as best as I could, and I continue to eat well and exercise regularly today. A couple of years after my treatment, I got involved with Paths for All, a walking group which is mostly made up of people who have had cancer. I still enjoy these weekly walks as a way to get outdoors, keep active, and socialise. I also do a lot of talks for Bowel Cancer UK to help raise awareness of symptoms.
“Going to the GP practice about my symptoms saved my life. I went early and returned when my symptoms continued. Some of the tests around bowel cancer can be a bit embarrassing, but it’s so important to get everything checked out. The doctors and staff who do these tests are used to it, and are great at putting you at ease. I’d say to anyone experiencing unusual symptoms to contact their GP practice without delay.”