Brave gran Jackie who beat bowel cancer raises cash in Wrexham

A grandmother has spoken movingly about how she has beaten bowel cancer.

Self-employed accountant Jackie Hill, 58, is now passionate about raising awareness of a disease many people are too embarrassed to talk  about.

Almost two years to the day after undergoing surgery, Jackie joined other volunteers raising money for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham.

Jackie, a mother of three who has two grandsons, says one of the biggest problems she faced when diagnosed with bowel cancer was finding someone to talk to and getting advice.

She said: “It started three years ago, I just didn’t feel right but looked perfectly fit and well and I had no history of bowel or any other form of cancer in the family.

“However, put simply, I had began to suffer erratic bowel movements and I thought there may have been blood in my stools. I went to my GP several times but, unfortunately, my suspicions were dismissed.

“Things got worse and after discovering I was now bleeding more and more I eventually managed to get referred.

She added: “I had a Sigmoidoscopy. It was only then that the cancer tumour was discovered. The end result was I had five days of radio therapy before surgery to remove the tumour.

“I was really lucky as the tumour had grown through the muscle wall but luckily had not reached any lymph nodes. And I didn’t have to have chemotherapy.

“Apparently, the condition is often far worse if the tumour ruptures the muscle wall but in my case we caught it just in time.”

But Jackie says the very nature of bowel cancer means we, as a society, simply don’t talk sufficiently about it .

She said: “Look at breast cancer for example, thanks perhaps to celebrities talking about their treatment and the part of the body the cancer affects, people are more willing and less embarrassed to talk about the disease and how to treat it.

“The first thing I did was look on the internet to find a local group I could talk to or find someone who had been through what I was going through. But I just couldn’t find anyone.

“There were lots of groups and support networks had I lived in London and I think I found one group in South Wales but around North East Wales? Nothing.”

She added: “I think it’s just down to the nature of the condition, it’s an area we tend not to talk about.

“People in mainland Europe are seemingly more at ease than we are when, for example, it comes to examining our own faeces or openly talking about something a perfectly natural as bowel movements.

“Yet bowel cancer affects so many people. More than 40,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the condition every year and it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths.

“The shame is, however, it’s so treatable – so long as it is diagnosed early enough.”

Following surgery to remove the tumour Jackie says she had to use a colostomy bag for a period of time while her bowel rested.

She said: “During the surgery I had to have a section of my colon removed and, while the bowel was allowed to settle back down I had to use a bag. However, it wasn’t for too long and now everything is fine.

“In fact I’m not on any medication whatsoever and just have to watch what I eat. It really is more about a healthy lifestyle than anything else and making sure I eat plenty of fibre.

“The most important thing for me now is getting that message across to people to get checked out if you think there may be a problem. And we need to increase the support network for people in and around North East Wales.”

She added: “And we have to get the message across to younger people too. My husband, Ray, works in Student Services at the Glyndwr University. I took in a huge pile of leaflets and, apparently, they all went in a day so hopefully some younger people have got the message too.

“It’s vital they reduce the fat content in their diet, increase the fibre and reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. And of course check their stools and seek help if there is any sign of blood.

“It seems while bowel cancer still affects more people over the age of 50 there is evidence that younger people are beginning to be diagnosed with the disease more often.”

And Jackie may even have saved her brother, who lives on the other side of the world, from invasive surgery thanks to her own bowel cancer treatment.

She said: “We really do not have any family history of bowel cancer in our family. However, I told my brother, Tony, 65, who lives in Australia having emigrated more than 20 years ago, and as a result he went for a check up with his doctor.

“They found blood, only tiny amounts, and the doctor used a similar camera to examine him. He found polyps in Tony’s bowel which were removed. They were examined and they confirmed they would have turned cancerous if left.

“Of course that early intervention meant Tony was fortunate as he only had to endure a very short and not very invasive procedure. Had it been left it would have been a much more involved procedure.”

And Jackie says she now feels fabulous and is looking forward to seeing her two grandsons grow up.

She said: “Tom and Liam are my daughter, Nicola’s, little tearaways. They live locally so I get to see them regularly while I also have two sons, Wayne, who lives close by, and Simon, a chef, who is currently working hard in Yorkshire.

Beating Bowel Cancer Regional Community Fundraiser, Rachel Thomas, says the charity works to save lives from Britain’s second biggest cancer killer.

She said: “All the money raised form fundraising events such as the collection at Eagles Meadow shopping centre will be used to help raise awareness of bowel cancer and support patients and their families coping with the disease.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Eagles Meadow management for allowing us to conduct this collection and raise awareness of the disease to Wrexham shoppers and visitors.”

Eagles Meadow Manager Kevin Critchley said: “We were delighted to welcome Jackie and her fellow volunteers to raise money and awareness about this very important issue.

“Jackie is living proof of the importance of the Beating Bowel Cancer campaign – she is an inspiration to us all.”

For more information about Beating Bowel Cancer, including ways you can get involved in fundraising for the charity visit or call 08450 719 300

Related Posts with Thumbnails