Two young women with personal stories of bowel cancer are starring in a new film that aims to raise awareness of the disease.
The film was produced on behalf of The Bowel Movement, a charity created in memory of Benjamin Millard of Frome in Somerset, who died of bowel cancer at age 33.
The disease has received greater public attention recently due to the tireless campaigning of the late Dame Deborah James, known as Bowelbabe, who died of bowel cancer.
Emily Harrison, a professor from Bristol, was repeatedly told she was too young to have bowel cancer when she had symptoms that included chronic pain and intestinal bleeding.
But six months later, she was diagnosed with upper stage 3 cancer.
Mrs. Harrison, who is now 40, said: “I remember that day very well.
“When I was taking my exam, the room was silent – but I could see on the screen that it was a huge tumor.
“I kept asking, ‘Am I going to die? I will die?’ and they just said ‘We don’t know’. It was such a scary time.”
After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, the mother of two embarked on the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
“I just wanted to show that cancer didn’t beat me. I just wanted my kids to be proud,” Harrison added.
It is vital that we challenge this misconception that young people do not get bowel cancer.
Abby Morris, sister of Benjamin Millard
Millard’s sister Abby Morris, 35, a professor at Lancaster University, created The Bowel Movement charity in memory of her brother.
“On the face of it, he was such a fit man,” she said.
“When we heard the news, it was devastating. It was so hard to believe.
“It is vital that we challenge this misconception that young people do not get bowel cancer. Early diagnosis is very important – and family doctors have a big role to play in this.”
The two women have now told their stories in a film that was produced to warn others of the dangers and encourage them to seek help.
The film was produced by former BBC correspondent Clinton Rogers, who said he just wants people to be aware and not be shy to come forward if they have symptoms.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.
Consultant colorectal surgeon Paul Mackey of Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton said it’s people’s reticence to introduce themselves that can lead to serious problems.
Mackey, who also appears in the film, said: “People are reluctant to talk about their bowel symptoms and their toileting habits – and that’s a big problem.
“But if you have ongoing bleeding, if you have a continual change in your bowel habits, you should come forward and get investigated. The rule is: don’t settle for your symptoms.”
– Don’t Sit On Your Symptoms became the title of the film, which can be seen on The Bowel Movement website https://www.thebowelmovement.uk/