My name is Suze, and I have Stage 3c, grade 3 bowel cancer.
Before I had cancer I was a keen runner and a teacher. I’d recently run a PB at the Cambridge Half Marathon and started a new job at a sixth form college, after years of teaching GCSE re-sits; I was looking forward to my first full academic year teaching A level literature and Level 3 Creative Media, as well as tackling my next running challenge.
I had started running in 2016, and within a year or so gotten my easy running pace down to sub 8 min miles and 5 and 10k race time to 7 and 7:15 min miles. and then at the end of 2017 I started suffering from recurring anaemia. My IBS symptoms also worsened to the point where I could barely even train without imodium. I remember one race (The Great yarmouth 5miles Series) – I crossed the finish line on a 7 min mile and had to keep running – right to the loo. I was on Galfer iron tablets at that stage so what came out was pitch black. I remember hearing kids laughing at me from outside my cubicle.
Over time my symptoms developed, and I could barely eat anything without being blighted by painful cramps and bloating. At which point I paid for a dietician to help me take on the FODMAP diet in an attempt to manage what was going on. Needless to say it didn’t work.
Life was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, but it wasn’t until I’d pulled out of 3 races, and was struggling to maintain 9:30 min miles that I went back to the doctor. My iron level was 85 – my gp couldn’t believe I was walking let alone running. They found blood in my poo and I was fast tracked to my colonoscopy where ‘Deirdre’ (the name we gave to my main tumour) was discovered on September 28th.
Being diagnosed with cancer has been a pretty scary experience, and I am only part way through my journey – but already there are things that I wish I had known in advance! I hope that I may be able help other people have a smoother journey than I did.
I started ‘Let’s talk about poo’ to enable me to share my experiences of being diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 36. And to raise awareness. I hope that by doing this, I might be able to help other people like me, or other people who are supporting people like me.
Organising stories into a format that can be understood and consumed by others has always helped me order and organise my thoughts, and in some ways take control of things that are happening to me. And that’s another reason why I started this blog – to make sense of my experiences, as well as share them.