Working on our family farm really was the perfect life, spending my days in the countryside working with the seasons, growing our own fruit and veg and rearing our own meat was the perfect blend for fitness and a healthy balanced diet with a rural lifestyle I was proud to be part of.
Over the past 10 yeas we had developed a successful farm stay business and embraced green technologies to lessen our carbon footprint, Sue and I were both happy, content and had a clear vision of our future together.
In June 2016, I went to my doctor having noticed a frequency in going to the toilet and a looser stool than normal, prepared I took in a stool sample, my doctor asks to feel my tummy then put on a rubber glove and asked if I was ok with a close look? Though you might want to say no, at this point I quickly realised that this was one of those questions which tricked you into thinking there was a choice, I unconfidently agreed. Removing her rubber glove my doctor asked me to pull up my trousers and take a seat, a moment of awkwardness proceeded where I instinctively said thank you and immediately contemplated what I was thanking her for and tried in being to qualify my instinctive response.
My Doctor then looked at me directly and sympathetically said, there was a lump present and that she needed to prepare me for the fact that it could be cancer, the possible reason for my increased frequency in going to the toilet, was the lump just inside my rectum was telling my brain that there was something to pass. My Doctor then confirmed that a referral would be made for a meeting with a consultant.
Returning home, I broke the news to Sue, the following day I got a phone call for my consultant appointment the following week, this quickly came around as did the lubricated camera.
Next followed a MRI scan and a localised CT scan, these I would later realise we’re all part of the informing process prior to my colonoscopy, this appointment came through just four and a half weeks after my initial doctors appointment, it was a Sunday I opted to stay awake for the procedure, rather than having anaesthetic I also had the option of gas and air which I quickly went onto.
Being an optimist, I thought best case scenario would reveal polyps which could be removed and I could quickly return to being a farmer.
Back on the ward and dressed, Sue came to join me, after a cup of tea, my consultant Mr Pandey and one of his staff came to join us both, sitting with me on the bed with his hand on my shoulder, he confirmed that I had Cancer, also because of where it was he would need to remove both the cancer and my rectum which would involve me having a colostomy bag.
Describing this I can still see Sue now with tears in her eyes trying yet failing to be strong for me as the news unfolded in slow motion before each of us through our watery eyes.
Confidently Mr Pandey assured us that we were both in his care now and that he would be able to restore us both to a normal albeit different way of life going forward. I would later learn how genuine he was in his reassurance, but for now accepted his confident reassurance as there was no second option.
The Way Forward
Always being a solution focussed and positive person, I knew that now, more than ever before, I needed to pull on all of my life skills to date, and assemble some form of strategy to fight and overcome this uninvited guest who had taken residence in my otherwise happy life.
Dealing With The Elephant In The Room
A conversation with Sue’s Step brother around my cancer not being the elephant in the room, got me thinking that I could not only get my news out their but could also use it to warn others of the warning signs and symptoms in detecting cancer in the early stages, the following morning I wrote the first of my Facebook posts on my condition and the life changing operation that lay before me.
My Life In The Hands Of My Consultant
A further meeting with my consultant and his team again bought home the reality of the situation that lay ahead of us, I took with me a letter written from the heart of how well my consultant had managed the news he had to give us, and a little around the farming life we wished to return to, for me this is was the most important letter I would ever write, I did not just want to be another patient, if I were to get the best chance at recovery, my consultant needed to know the person behind the condition. After telling Sue and I his plan for us, and fully explaining all of the risks of both the surgery and post operative issues, I shook his hand and pledged my confidence in him to do all that he could to return me to my working life as a farmer and my family life with Sue.
Today, it’s 4 weeks since my operation, for once in my life I have done everything I was told in order to manage my recovery, I have just 3 further injections left and thanks to the prayers of everyone around me, my consultant and God, all of my cancer has been removed and I’m well on my way to recovery. The best news ever was that due to the diligence and skill of my consultant, going to the doctor early enough and the speed and efficiency of the National Health Sevice I am now Cancer Free without the need for Chemotherapy.
In all of this I have been lucky, acting quickly enough to deny cancer the opportunity to take a hold. Please learn from this any changes in your motions, blood loss or indeed any concerns are worth getting checked out.
This week I have started irrigating my colon, a process which enables me to ditch the bag replacing it for a patch allowing me to go 48 hrs between each procedure, resuming a near to normal way of life going forward.
Sue has been my rock in our combined fight against cancer, through all of this our friends, family, Young farmers, past and present work colleagues, and local community have been amazing in their support wishes and prayers.
In May 2017 we will be married, cancer has left us with a greater understanding of the important things in life, and having Sue as my wife couldn’t be a more important thing in our future together.
This week we also found that our farm has been shortlisted for The British Farming Awards for Digital Innovation, through our social media developments in the promotion of our Farm Stay Business. This is great news for the farm and if by sharing my story I can stop cancer changing the life of just one family this would be the best reward I could ask for, so please like and share to get this message out there.