A bowel cancer diagnosis during lockdown shocked our supporter Claire Burlison to the core. But following surgery, she’s now living beyond cancer and trying to follow our Recommendations.
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating for anyone. But when you’re young, energetic – and the world is in the grip of a global pandemic – it’s even harder.
“I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2020,” says Claire, “which came as a shock as I’m only in my 40s. Before that, I assumed my irritable bowel syndrome was just getting worse. It was only when I got sharp stomach pains and ended up in A&E that I found out I needed surgery.
“I was expecting bad news, but it still knocked me for six when they phoned and told me I had bowel cancer,” she adds.
Although bowel cancer – like most cancers – is more prevalent in older adults, it’s sadly increasingly common in younger people. Researchers are trying to find out why. Fortunately for Claire, doctors found that the cancer hadn’t spread. Now, having been cancer-free for over 2 years, she’s trying to follow our Recommendations in her daily life to reduce the risk of cancer returning.
Claire limits alcohol and is much more aware of what she eats – checking food labels to see what’s really in the food she’s buying, and dramatically reducing how much red and processed meat she eats, because of the strong links to bowel cancer.
Exercise is also important for people living beyond cancer – with both physical and mental benefits. For Claire, staying active comes naturally as she is the founder of the international dance phenomenon Clubbercise. Blending simple but effective dance, toning and combat moves, Clubbercise is a workout with a difference aimed at all abilities. The atmosphere is more nightclub than gym, as people dance together in a darkened room with low lighting and flashing LED glow sticks.
Claire says she’s “proud to still be here supporting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month”, which takes place in April every year.
Thankfully, my cancer was caught early and I’m fine now but many people aren’t so lucky. I’ve lost friends to this terrible disease and I’m keen to raise awareness to help others.
If you notice any changes to your bowel habits that last more than a couple of weeks please see your doctor straight away – it could save your life!