A LANARKSHIRE woman is urging people aged between 50 and 74 to take up the offer of a free bowel screening test, which she says saved her life.
Ann Rytel from Motherwell was diagnosed with bowel cancer after completing a routine bowel screening test.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Approximately 4,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.
As part of the national Detect Cancer Early campaign a new TV advert, which launches this week (18 February), is encouraging people to make sure they take part in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme. The programme invites all men and women in Scotland between the ages of 50 to 74 for screening every two years. Last year in Lanarkshire, only 47% completed the test that they were sent.
Ann said: “When I first got the test through, I didn’t want to do it. I put it in my magazine rack and told myself that I would get round to it eventually. However, six weeks later I received a reminder letter, which convinced me to do the test.
“I was asked to do another test as they found blood in the first one. Within two days of sending off my re-test I received a letter saying that I would need a colonoscopy at Wishaw General Hospital.”
Ann’s further tests revealed that she had bowel cancer.
Ann said: “When they told me it was cancer, I didn’t know what to think. I asked the doctor if I was going to die.
“I will never forget my husband’s face. He had lost his first wife to cancer. He put his head in his hands and said ‘deja vu’.
“My husband told the doctor that I had been in tears with pain, she advised me to go and collect some things and come straight back to the hospital. I had the operation two days later.
“I was shown a picture of the tumour once it was removed. I was really shocked when I saw it. To me, it looked as if it was as big as the palm of my hand.”
After her operation, Ann received six sessions of chemotherapy. She has now been given the ‘all clear’.
She said: “I stress to everyone how important taking this test is. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not the most pleasant thing to do. However, I plead with them as it can save your life. It saved my life; if I had not done the test, I might not be here today.
“I think the fear factor stops some people taking the test. When I look back, I think it’s what stopped me. I had pains for about a year. I kept thinking that I had eaten something wrong or that it was just related to constipation. I was scared of what the results might say.
Ann is grateful to the staff who nursed her back to health, saying that she will never forget them.
She said: “My doctor saved my life and I am thankful that I am here to tell my story. Someone up there must like me.
“I have been given a second shot at life and I am determined to live it to the full.”
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