Michael Price from Worcestershire had absolutely no symptoms that could have indicated he’d have bowel cancer. At 72 years of age he’d been having the FOBT postal tests for several years and was always diligent about sending off a sample.
Over the years all his samples had come back as normal, however the last one he posted back in 2016 returned an “unclear” result, so he was sent a second one which came back as “clear”, then as a matter of course he was sent another sample pack and that result was “unclear”. He was then referred for a colonoscopy but in the meantime, a friend of his recommended Mr Tariq Ismail, Consultant General Surgeon at BMI The Priory Hospital.
My friend told me that Mr Ismail put both him and his wife at ease, made him laugh and looked after him well and Mr Ismail did exactly that. He had to give me some very bad news, but the way in which he handled the situation was very reassuring. After the colonoscopy, Mr Ismail informed me that there was a cancerous tumour in my bowel. The good news was that it had been caught early. The bad news was that it was located in an awkward position and he explained that there was a good chance that if he operated in the usual way to remove it that I would lose control over my bowels.
Radiotherapy was considered as a possible treatment, but unfortunately this wasn’t a viable option for my type of bowel cancer, Mr Ismail spoke in great detail to both myself and my wife that the only remaining option was surgery which would leave me with having a permanent colostomy bag. I really liked how he spoke inclusively to myself and my wife – this really helped as I didn’t have to relay any information to her and she had the chance to have all of her questions answered directly from him.
Initially, my wife and I were upset at the thought of me having to live the rest of my life with a colonoscopy bag, but again, Mr Ismail handled our concerns brilliantly. I will always remember him saying to us, “What I am going to do is not a treatment, it is a cure”. This really reassured us that this was going to save my life.
From then on, my mind set changed, and it helped that I was put in touch with Mandy Smart, colorectal nurse specialist who answered my questions before undergoing the surgery and helped me to come to terms with the difficult news of facing the rest of my life with a colostomy bag.
During my stay at BMI The Priory Hospital I was looked after exceptionally well. Mr Ismail’s anaesthetist took the time to answer all of my questions. I was expecting a 7-8 day inpatient stay, but was discharged after 6 days. When I was in hospital, Mr Ismail came to see me twice a day to check on my recovery. Everyone I dealt with gave me a feeling of total confidence. During the first 24 hours following my operation, I was on the Intensive Care Ward, where although I was very dazed, I felt reassured that there was a nurse sitting there all the time at the end of my bed. Everyone looked after me so well, I can’t fault the service received.
Mr Ismail is a very unique man and has a fantastic team. At every stage, they dealt with me and my wife in such a pleasant and professional way, as if what I was going through was nothing out of the ordinary, which was very reassuring.
I dread to think how far the tumour would have spread if I have been alerted to it. I would like to reinforce to anyone reading this how important it is to complete their postal FOBT testing kits. I had absolutely no bowel cancer symptoms whatsoever. No abdominal pain, no discomfort, no change in bowel habit and no known cases of bowel cancer in the family, yet I had bowel cancer. It is vital that people are aware they can have bowel cancer and no symptoms, which is why doing the FOBT test is so critical.
As a result of completing the test, I have my life. It’s full of hobbies and holidays with my wife, and spending time with my son and grandchildren.
Our consultant Mr Tariq Ismail comments:
Michael is a great role model for other patients. Being such an advocate for the FOBT testing kit, I hope his story encourages others not to neglect these tests as they can be so important in the discovery and diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer affects 1 in 14 men and 1 in 19 women in their lifetime. Make sure you are bowel cancer aware and download our guide for more information.