Joan’s story – I do everything right and I still had bowel cancer

Joan talks about her experience with bowel cancer, and how doing the screening test saved her life.


My name’s Joan Fitches, I’m 67 years old and I was diagnosed with bowel cancer when I was 65.

A few weeks after my 65th birthday, I received a bowel cancer screening kit in the mail. It actually looked like a nice present.

I did the test and put it in the test tube, put it in the envelope, didn’t even need a stamp, just sent it off and promptly forgot all about it.

A month later I got a letter from bowel screening again and it said ‘here are the results of your bowel screening test’.

After I kind of got over the shock of the letter I immediately made an appointment to see the GP and showed him the letter and said it’s recommended here that I have a colonoscopy so he agreed and they did that within about 3 weeks.

Once I had the colonoscopy done at the hospital, I went back to the ward and sort of just waited about, getting ready to go home. My husband, eventually he came up to if I was ready to go home.

When he was there 2 doctors came in to see me and they said they had to talk to the 2 of us.

They took us into a little room, sat us down, showed some pictures and said they’d found that I had a tumour in my intestine and he said the best thing for them to do would be to have surgery to remove the tumour. So I was quite happy to go along with that.

It is so important if you get one of those bowel screening kits please do it, it’s not hard, it’s not horrible, changing a baby’s nappy is worse than that, and yet it saves your life.

I had no symptoms of bowel cancer at all, there is no bowel cancer in our family, I’ve never smoked, I’m a very moderate drinker, I exercise, I eat well, I do everything right, and yet I still had bowel cancer. I had a very serious bowel cancer and if I hadn’t used that kit well I wouldn’t be standing here today talking to you

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Joan received the bowel cancer screening kit a few weeks after her 65th birthday. Her results came back positive and a follow up colonoscopy showed that she had bowel cancer — even though she had not had any symptoms at all. She had surgery to remove the cancer and says that the test saved her life.

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