Get checked out and save your life
MANY people are too embarrassed to talk about bowel cancer, let alone be tested for it.
But one survivor says people need to ignore their blushes and address symptoms quickly otherwise the delay could cost them their lives.
Bowel cancer affects more than 300 people in south Essex each year, with the majority of sufferers aged over 55.
Last year, 46 died from the disease in Southend, 20 in Castle Point and 44 in Basildon.
Babette Knott, 63, of The Knares, Basildon, has made a full recovery since being diagnosed with bowel cancer five years ago.
But she believes she wouldn’t be here today if a doctor hadn’t persistently investigated her symptoms.
At first, Babette’s symptoms were dismissed, as doctors put her bleeding down to haemorrhoids.
But she felt something wasn’t right and, when the bleeding continued, went back to the doctors and got an appointment at Basildon Hospital for tests.
The former teacher, who moved to Basildon from northern France in the Seventies, said: “I had all sorts of tests and scans, but then I just remember hearing the word ‘biopsy’' and I knew it was bad news.
“I glanced at the image of my scan up on the screen and I could see a sort of lump in my bowel.”
Even though doctors knew something was wrong with Babette, further tests failed to conclude whether it was a cancerous tumour.
A Basildon Hospital doctor, Ian Lineham, was determined to investigate what was wrong with his patient and told her he had a feeling she had cancer.
Tests eventually confirmed it was and Babette underwent an operation to remove the tumour and was put on chemotherapy tablets.
She said: “If it hadn’t been for his refusal to give up I might not be here now.”
Babette now talks to others across the UK about her experiences as a volunteer for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.
She warns them to look out for the symptoms and not be afraid to have them looked into.
“People shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about bowel cancer or go to see their doctor. It can be difficult, but it’s so important to get tested so treatment can start as soon as possible.”