04:30PM, Thursday 19 April 2018
Awareness about bowel cancer could save lives, a young woman from Maidenhead who may not live to see her 30s has said.
Christine Ashworth, 27, was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and had surgery to
remove her colon and rectum before undertaking six months of chemotherapy.
The then university student attempted to get her life back on track, despite battling with complications that followed the operation, but in 2016 she was told by doctors that the cancer had spread to her lungs.
Her disease is treatable but incurable and Christine is now dedicating herself to raising awareness about getting checked for bowel cancer – especially as April is the awareness month for the disease.
“Just bite the bullet and do it,” Christine said, fearing those with symptoms could be too embarrassed to get them checked out.
“It is not going to get better. Just do it. It could save your life.”
Symptoms of the disease include a persistent change in bowel habit, blood in stools and abdominal pain.
Christine, who lives in The Crescent, managed to take the initial diagnosis in her stride.
“I was with my parents at the time,” she said.
“My first thought was, ‘oh my God, my parents have found out their kid has cancer’.”
She had to temporarily leave her studies for her environmental science degree at Reading University to undergo treatment.
Her colon and rectum were eventually replaced with a bag following surgery at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough.
But while dealing with issues that arose following surgery, Christine still managed to return to university and gain a first class degree.
“I was thinking, ‘I am going to get back to normal’,” she said.
Her life was still a series of ‘back and forth’ post-operation appointments at hospitals but, by 2016, her health was improving and she was looking to start work.
That was until a routine scan in April that year revealed she had lesions on her lungs and the cancer had spread from her bowels.
“I went to the appointment thinking, ‘obviously there is going to be nothing wrong’,” she said. “It was completely unexpected.”
Christine is continuing to undergo chemotherapy to treat the disease but believes ultimately it will kill her.
“Eventually the chemo will stop working and the tumours will grow,” she said.
“They are going to run out of treatments. It will kill me eventually.”
A strong person who tries to see the better side of events, Christine added: “Lots of my friends are stressing about mortgages and promotions.
“I don’t have to think about that, I don’t have to plan a pension, I can spend my savings if I want.”
But despite her liberating attitude to what may be the final few years of her life, Christine does not have a ‘bucket list’ and is most content enjoying the small things, such as going for a meal with her friends or playing board games with her parents Mary and Mark.
Wexham Park Hospital and cancer support charity Macmillan is backing Christine’s efforts to promote a support group specifically for people in the area suffering from bowel cancer.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to take part.
Christine has a blog about her experience at muddyingthewaters.wordpress.com
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