I regarded myself as no different from most men and women who had not seen a doctor for a few years and had managed to avoid a lot of colds and flu’s.
Life was so hectic, jobs by day plus housework, emails and shopping in evenings and weekends and being a keen sportsman I was also squeezing into my work/home schedule games of tennis, golf and windsurfing. I also skied in the winter.
Any thought of a major illness went over my head. I was fit and active and was convinced that aches or pains would go away.
I suppose it was in the late autumn of 2005 that I started to get a few stomach aches/cramps and spells of diarea. I don’t recall any periods of constipation and I had not noticed any blood in my stools, but it was not the thing I was looking for!
I often had the radio on by day and heard one of those "phone in’s" to the doctor sessions when a caller had similar symptoms to me and "irritable bowel syndrome" was a suggestion. The cause, apparently, could be put down to personal or work stress or just "juggling so many balls in the air" but a visit to the doctor was recommended.
Weeks went by and I read an article in a paper that mirrored my symptoms but I still did not visit my doctor.
The winter months came and went and I had lost some weight (I thought good news, as my trousers were not so tight) and I still had the "loose stomach" (I put down to diet, rushing around and adrenaline). I was starting to feel more tired and could spend a day feeling cold (even though wrapped up) but within a day or so I perked up. I remember eating more sweat foods like mars bars etc as I felt an energy boost was needed.
I was often joking of my "irritable bowel syndrome" and in fact if you google it you will see my symptoms were similar. It was self diagnosis that I believe (as I say above) came about from circumstances of life style that was so similar to many people in probably an age bracket of 25 to 55.
The above summary is a period of some 6 months that took me up to early May 2006, when, after some continuous days of the "cramps/shooting pains in my stomach", I finally went to see my doctor. I was busy that morning putting wooden coving up in my kitchen. I told my neighbour that I was just nipping out to the doctors as the pain was still there and I still did not believe it to be serious. Irritable bowel syndrome comes and goes!
Once lying on the coach I was prodded and pushed and the doctor demonstrated how parts of my stomach (near the belly button) sounded and felt "solid". He was convinced that the appendix was playing up (he felt a tissue mass) and produced a letter for me to take straight to the Medical Assessment Unit at my local hospital. He also telephoned them with the possible diagnosis so I avoided A&E etc.
After blood tests, various examinations and discussions with doctors I was given antibiotics and told to come back if things got worse in two days. Unless I returned I would be getting an appointment for an endoscopic examination, so a camera can have a good look around.
That was a Friday and by the Sunday I was still feeling rough so, although at the coast, I opted not to go out on the water windsurfing but to stay in my beach hut and keep warm.
I telephoned the hospital on the Monday morning and was told to go straight to them with an overnight bag. They were preparing a bed and on the Tuesday afternoon the "appendicitis" operation was undertaken.
As they say, the rest is history and can be read on the W4CR web site where the full background from the operation to my return to sports is documented. My monthly blog's update how I am now handling the recurrence of the cancer in my lungs (diagnosed October 2008)
The moral of my case (apart from staying positive and active during and after any treatment) is not to self diagnose and see the doctor at any sign of "unusual pains" etc.
Cancer caught early can been killed off early!