September and October have been quite important months on the old Cancer front.

Around a month ago I went to see the Thoracic consultant. I was expecting a long chat about the “area of interest” around the bronchus but he put it down to just something they will have to keep an eye on. I’ve been discharged from clinic back into the care of the colorectal team, who will be the ones keeping the proverbial eye on me. That’s the end of my adventure in Thoracic Park.

Last week I had an appointment with the colorectal team for a colonoscopy (that’s the internal camera exam). It’s a rotten test to prepare for because the pre-exam drugs you take the day before first make you feel ill, then give you stomach cramps, and finally everything in your guts explodes from you. Hard enough to do when you still have all your original working parts, but in my case 😦

It’s a few-hour procedure that isn’t at all painful or unpleasant (apart from the prep) and I got to watch on the monitor screens as the camera went around the bends. I was expecting the colon wall to be festooned with polyps (which they would then cut away, painlessly) and there would always be the chance that these could show signs of cancer recurrence once tested in the Lab. As it turned out there weren’t any. They gave me the results as I was recovering from the mild sedative and it was basically an “All Clear”.

For someone who’s been diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer which had spread to my liver and both of my lungs, this is as close to being clear from cancer as it’s going to get.

It’s hard to understand or explain why I don’t feel over the moon. I feel a great deal of relief – any other news and I would be in the quicksand grip of yet more treatment (probably chemotherapy) and I don’t even want to think about that.

I’ve tried looking back and asking those two key questions: could I have prevented this and could I have discovered it sooner? There’s no denying that my fondness for the good life, the booze and the rich food had a part to play, but it seems to me after much reading that it had a lot more to do with my genes. There’s been a lot of bowel cancer awareness aimed at the general public in the past month. I’m looking at a list of symptoms as I write: blood in faeces, bouts of diarrhea, pain or lump in stomach or unexplained weight loss. Problem is: all I ever had that was unusual for me was a pain in my hip (the tumour was pressing against a nerve). I was 49 years old – they aren’t even sending out the early diagnosis kits to anyone aged under 60. My advice on this to every other 40-something who ever reads this: ask around your family for evidence that bowel cancer was common on your father or mother’s side. If there is history, ask them to do a colonoscopy at the first sign for concern.

I read someone who said cancer made him a better, nicer person. I wish. What it did do for me though was make me marvel at Nature and develop a passion to keep everything living stay alive.