Interview 34

Age at interview: 61
Brief Outline: Invited to be screened for bowel cancer in 2006, when aged 61. The result of the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test was abnormal, so he had a colonoscopy. One polyp was removed, which was found to be cancerous.
Background: A white British man, a singer, married, with 4 children.

More about me...

He was invited to be screened for bowel cancer in 2006, when aged 61. The result of the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test was unclear, so he repeated the test, which was found to be abnormal. He was then invited to have a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy one polyp was removed, which was found to be malignant (cancerous). The doctors said they were confident that they had removed all the cancerous cells, but they want him to return in January 2007 for another colonoscopy to make sure that all is well.


The information was very enlightening.

It was October, yes 2006.

And the letter came I think with an information booklet about the screening programme.

Yes, yes.

What did you make of that information that came with it?

It was very enlightening you know and as I said I straight away thought of my father and my grandfather, who had this problem, or my grandfather had this problem and I thought the information pack was absolutely brilliant, you know it opened you up to everything about bowel cancer and the goods of having the screening done and well I can't think of anything else.


His test results were abnormal so he assumed the worst and was keen to get on with further...

And how long did you have to wait for the result?

The first time was three days, four days I believe it was, before it came back to say that it was a little bit unclear, would I do another test kit. And which I done, I done the test again that I done in the first place, sent that off and then it was within a week that I got the result back to say that there was a problem and they would like to see me you know for further investigation if that was okay with me.

And what were your feelings at that stage?

Anticipation I suppose of what would be, or what could be. But as quick as I, I can't think of the words, I was thinking the worst obviously, I think you know you do, you just think the worst straight away. But as quick as I was thinking about that I was then thinking well no, you know, let's get something done, let's find out about what's happening like you know. And' 

So they invited you to go and meet one of the nurses at the hospital?

They did yes.


The nurse explained that bleeding may be due to polyps, which may be benign, and that they can be...

Yes, can you explain exactly what happened on that occasion when you went to find out more about it?

When I went to meet the nurse at the hospital she took me into the interview room and was explaining to me the different parts of my body, my bowel, my large bowel, my small bowel and what happens, the function of all this area and that there are things everybody has got, well most people have got polyps in their intestinal system you know and that sometimes these do go cancerous but more often than not, nine times out of ten they're not, they're benign. And she really made me feel at ease, I mean she was terrific, she really was you know like one of the family.

Did she tell you about the colonoscopy at that stage?

Yes she did, she told me what the procedure would be, that I would go in there and they would sedate me if I wanted to and they would put me on my left hand side and they would go in with a camera and investigate, have a look at my large bowel and my small one and all my intestines and if there was any problem there with polyps, they would take them off while they were inside. And they assured me there would be no pain, because you don't feel pain when they're doing things inside you, if they have to cut anything you, it's only outside of the body that you feel any pain. And I can just honestly say I didn't, I never even felt a camera go into my backside. I never had any sensation of anything being inside me at all.


His male nurse put him at ease before and during the colonoscopy; the doctor asked him to sign a...

Please would you go through in detail then what happened actually on the day of the colonoscopy?

My colonoscopy was scheduled for 2 o clock, I arrived at the hospital about 1.30 and sure enough around 2 o clock I was called into the day care room. I was met by a male nurse who was very pleasant, really pleasant. Made me feel at ease and told me what he wanted me to do which was to take my clothes off and I would put the cloak on that they provided and he would then give me a sedative, just a little prick in the back of my hand and then I would go through to the surgery room where I met the doctor who was very pleasant, very pleasant. The nurses made me feel really at ease, they were actually terrific. And I was asked different questions.

Did you sign a consent form?

I actually signed a consent form yes before I went through there and I was just asked, I was told about it, what they were going to do and I was very relaxed, they made me feel very relaxed. And they just inserted the camera and done their job and would, which I didn't know anything about, I didn't know a thing about what was'

You weren't awake enough to see the screen?

Oh I was, I was, I wake wide awake and I could see the screen and I had this nurse talking to me and they were doing their job which I didn't know nothing about.

You couldn't feel anything?

I couldn't feel a thing and they finished the job and everything was fine.


He had pain from wind for about 45 minutes after the colonoscopy. The pain got better gradually...

And then afterwards, how did you feel afterwards?

Afterwards I, I, the only sign of pain that I had afterwards, and which they told me about that I would possibly get some wind afterwards, bad wind, because when they put the camera in it can't be helped, there's so much wind when they're putting it through you, you know your system, you get air locks. And after they'd finished I must admit when I, I laid on the bed and I, it was just like a bad stomach wind pain which was what I had probably for about I don't know 45 minutes afterwards and as you go to the toilet to try and get rid of the, disperse this wind it gets easier and easier, the more wind you express obviously. But that was the only sign of; not pain, discomfort that I had you know but everything was fine.


He was shocked when the nurse told him he had cancer. His wife phoned the nurse after she got...

Right so then a week later you went back to see the nurse again, can you explain again in detail how that conversation went?

Right I arrived at the hospital, possibly, possibly a week later which I was met by the nurse and she called me into her room and sat me down and said, 'Well we've got the results back from your polyp test and it was cancerous at the tip,' which I sunk back in my chair sort of thing. And she realised this because she said to me, 'You looked shocked.' So I said, 'Well I am a bit shocked,' I said because if you remember afterwards you said, "Oh well everything seems to be fine, you know nothing looks nasty." Of which she agreed, she did she said, 'But of course you know everything did look fine but you know just that one' she said, 'but of course" she said, 'we were surprised when it came back as well you know that was a cancerous tip but we are going to keep a check on you now.'

You said it was quite a shock and I can understand that. What happened when you got home and with family?

I think, well I, initially when she told me that the polyp was cancerous I think it's just that word cancer, you know you just think, oh you just think the worst. And of course my wife was in the waiting room and when I came out and, and I told her. Well we were, we were supposed to have been going for a meal when we left there but she didn't want to go for a meal you know because she thought the worst as well you know which is a natural reaction. And the nurse was absolutely brilliant. She said to me, she said, 'Look now when you get home,' she said, 'if there's anything playing on your mind about the conversation we've had please call me and we will talk together' And she said, 'Same with your wife if your wife is concerned please get her to call me.' Which when we got back home my wife was concerned, I knew she was concerned about this.

Of course.

And it was worrying her. So I said, 'Well look give the nurse a ring and just have a chat,' which she done and she put her at ease you know and that was great.


He felt better when the nurse told him it was a good thing his cancer had been found early when...

So you wanted to say something else?

Yes, just going back to when I went to get my results for the polyps the nurse said to me about the tip being cancerous and I was taken back, I was shocked and she said to me, 'You know you look shocked,' so I said, 'Yeah I am sort of taken back a bit.' But she said, 'Well look at it this way if, if you hadn't of come here, if you hadn't have done this test, three to four years up the road you would have been having problems and them problems could have been serious. So just look at it as nothing but positive that you came here, you've done this test, because otherwise you would know nothing about it, you would have had problems.'

Did that make you feel a little bit better?

Oh it did, oh definitely without a doubt and with her saying that yes I did, I thought to myself well yeah I could have just ignored that test kit, gone on with my life and three years up the road I could have been taken ill, seriously ill and they could have opened me up and found this you know horrible thing called bowel cancer, you know, which they might not have been able to do anything about. So yes, have this test done. If you're 60 and above and that [invitation for screening] drops on your doorstep you do the test because it just takes five minutes of your time.


He thinks that screening is a “brilliant concept” and that if his grandfather had been screened...

So what's your view of the national screening programme now?

My view of the national screening is it's absolutely a brilliant concept because years ago when, I mean cancers have been about for years but unfortunately my grandfather and my father, or my grandfather particularly never had this you know to go at in those days. If he had done, if they'd been around then, if the screening had been around then he'd been in a lot, he'd have been here a lot more years than what he was, without a doubt. So it's absolutely brilliant and please if you are 60 or over go for it, have it done, get checked out.

So your message to other people?

My message to other people is what have you go to lose? You've got lots to gain by having this test done so please get it done.

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