Tag Archives: hope

A New Year Beckons

31 Dec

Image result for New beginnings

New Years Eve for me is somehow full of both a touch of sorrow at the reminder of how quickly time passes and full of hope for the fresh beginning the New Year offers.  It’s also a time of reflection and when I look back at 2017, it’s not the endless meetings I’ve attended, places I’ve visited, awards I’ve won or reports I’ve read, but people that come to mind  and some extraordinary acts of generosity and inspirational selflessness.

Jennifer WarrenPeople like Jennifer Warren who died on the 6th December aged just 34.  Her brother contacted me after her death to let me know that ‘She left express instructions that she was happy for Bowel Cancer UK to use her story for the purpose of publicizing the charity’s aims and in particular for the purpose of raising awareness among the young.  She also requested that Bowel Cancer UK should derive some benefit from her funeral donations and hoped in particular that this might be able to be put towards campaigns related to the young, such as #Never2Young.’

Jennifer, like so many other young bowel cancer patients, experienced a delayed diagnosis and so when she was eventually diagnosed it was already at stage 4. She had only just got married and was looking forward to starting a family.

Her blog www.bodyassindex.com all too clearly documents the delight that was her and the awfulness that was her treatment.

Another woman aged 49, who wants to remain anonymous currently, contacted me in October to tell me that she hadn’t been given long to live and to apologise that she wouldn’t be able to help Bowel Cancer UK in the way she had wanted.  She had planned to become an awareness volunteer and to share her story to help ensure others do not have to endure all she is.   Instead she pledged a £5,000 legacy to the charity on her death, which she had been informed would be in early 2018, to make up for her lack of volunteering support.

33 year old father of three, Sam Gould’s reaction to his stage 4 diagnosis in April was to make a film to help raise awareness of the disease.  In those short final months of his life, Sam could not do enough to support Bowel Cancer UK using all his campaigning skill and zeal to publicise and raise funds for our Never Too Young campaign.  His family and friends continue to support us which means so much to us all.  Sam Gould

It is these three remarkable people, and many others, I think about when I reflect on 2017.  Their ability to consider and care about other people at the darkest moments of their own lives is I think inspirational and extraordinarily moving.

Of course New Year’s Eve also makes you look forward to new beginnings and this one feels particularly significant for me.  On 01.01.2018 Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer will be formally merged as one charity and I’m excited for the possibility that creates.

Both charities achieve a great deal separately but we firmly believe that together we can achieve more.  Together we are determined to save lives, improve the quality of life and provide support to everyone affected by bowel cancer.   We will achieve this through an ambitious programme of research, support services, education and campaigns.

I know 2018 will bring its fair share of challenges and frustrations for our new charity but with another 41,000 people currently unaware that 2018 will be defined for them by a bowel cancer diagnosis, the stakes are high.

For them and for all those who have placed their trust and belief in us, we will not fail.  Of course we can’t #STOPbowelcancer alone – we need people to be actively with us – could you make that your unbreakable New Year’s resolution?  Mine is clear, I am going to give this my all.   I’m going to breathe through the frustrations, calmly problem solve my way through the challenges and keep my sights strategically fixed on improving outcomes, so that one day we can look forward to a day when no one dies of bowel cancer.   I’m ready 2018.

Happy New Year, may it be full of hope, health and happiness.

The Star of Hope

 

For more information about bowel cancer visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk or www.beatingbowelcancer.org

To speak to a nurse call: 020 8973 0011

Or visit our Online Forum

 

 

 

Finding Hope….

9 Apr

sping flowers“Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson

laura 6

I cried this week – tears of sorrow and anger.  Beautiful Laura passed away. She was taken from her family and friends far too young, a month after her wedding day. It was a day I’d been dreading for some time.   It’s simply not right and it makes me angry because her untimely death could and SHOULD have been prevented.  Bowel cancer is after all really a good news story… it is preventable, treatable and curable.  This blog is dedicated to her.

Star of hopeWelcoming Ben Richards…

ben_richards

I hope Laura would have been pleased to hear that 40 year old actor Ben Richards became a patron of Bowel Cancer UK this last week. He is living proof that you can survive bowel cancer.    I was particularly delighted because I’m rather tired, if I’m honest, of simply hearing how embarrassing bowel cancer is.  I can’t help but wonder if by endlessly repeating that, if it doesn’t make it become so.  I know it’s hard for us British/English/Welsh/Scots/Irish* (*delete as appropriate or add your own!) lot to talk about the symptoms.  After all blood in your poo, a change of bowel habit, pain in your tummy aren’t everyone’s hot topic of conversation but my goodness surely it’s far worse to die by not doing so.

Star of hopeLove your bowel

love your gut

I’ve a long-held belief that we need to move the debate about bowel cancer on – we need to take a fresh look at the way we image and talk about the disease in order to find a way to mainstream it.  The word bowel is one of the barriers as people don’t really understand where or what it is compared to say the heart and lungs and think it’s all a bit unpleasant.  I believe we need to change this and educate people about what their bowel is and why it is so vital for our digestive health.

One thing I’m certain about is that many of those without some part, or all, of that question mark shaped internal organ, would testify that life is easier with it than without it.

Star of hope  Giving hope 

I find it terribly frustrating that some cancers are considered ‘sexier’ than others.  If you are a celebrity that has had a ‘sexy’ cancer it seems absolutely acceptable to share your story and even those with no connection to the disease are happy to be associated with it.  Celebrity support certainly gets media attention and that can be positive.  So why should it be any different for bowel cancer?  After all, no cancer is sexy and every cancer patient is as important as another.  I firmly believe that bowel cancer patients deserve the same support as others.  So come on all you ‘celebs’ out there… we need you to stop perpetuating the myth that this cancer is ‘embarrassing’ and talk about it instead.  Please step up, share your stories, show your support, raise awareness – give hope.  You can make a difference.

I can’t help but wonder if Laura had read such a story in a magazine or found it on the internet – maybe, just maybe, she would have known how important those symptoms she was experiencing were and insisted she was checked properly.  Maybe that would have meant her family wouldn’t have been burying her tomorrow and that they wouldn’t have been left absolutely shattered, empty and heartbroken by her loss.

Star of hopeA bright future

Laura’s passing rocked many of my patient friends on Twitter – particularly those with advanced disease – it seemed to give wings to those awful fears lurking beneath the surface and to at least temporarily take away their confidence and hope.  So I want to finish this by sharing one story that should give hope.

Hayley and AutumnHayley was diagnosed at 32 after her baby girl Autumn, was born prematurely at 27 weeks and sadly passed away a few short weeks later because Hayley’s bowel tumour had stopped her growing.  Hayley blogs  incredibly movingly about how Autumn saved her life, as this led to her diagnosis of stage 3 bowel cancer.  Via the wonders of social media, I walked alongside Hayley throughout her treatment and helplessly watched her struggle with chemo and regular emergency visits back to the hospital with infections and high temperatures.  After all that, she also had to deal with radiotherapy too.  It was tough, physically and emotionally and on top of everything else she was grieving for her baby.  Wonderfully, she is now cancer free and her blog describes the future she sees ahead of her.

‘Until recently, I couldn’t see past the treatment – now all I can see is holidays away with Paul, having fun with family and friends and having our family we have always wished for. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our daughter’s gift to me than having a little brother or sister (or both) to whom we can share our wonderful story of their big sister, Autumn.’

Hayley has a bright future ahead of her but it is very different from the one she expected.  She shared her story for Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young campaign. You can watch it here.

Star of hopeTake action

We launched our Never Too Young campaign because of younger bowel cancer patient’s experiences and to seek positive solutions so that younger patients could be identified and diagnosed more quickly.  I want to be part of stopping this senseless loss of life, I want there to be real reasons for hope.  I’m fundraising because this all costs money and the charity doesn’t have enough.

My tandem Skydive was delayed due to the snow (just a brief reprieve!) but it is looming again, re-scheduled for the 20th April.  When I’m doing it and conquering my very real fear, I am going to think about Laura and remember that she should have enjoyed her future too,  surrounded by her loving family and friends.

Please sponsor me and take action to make positive change by joining Bowel Cancer UK’s  Never Too Young campaign.

 

RIP Laura

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

 

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry:

I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Frye

To sponsor me please go to  www.justgiving.com/deborah-alsina

For Bowel Cancer information please visit www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk

To find out more about the bowel please follow this link to our interactive diagram

To find out how you can ‘love your bowel’ please click here.

If you have concerns or questions about any aspect of Bowel Cancer, please contact our specialist nurses on Freephone 080 8 40 35 40 or email them on support@bowelcanceruk.org.uk

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