A MIDWIFE who has endured a series of bowel cancer operations today spoke of her hopes for the future as she prepares to undergo surgery for the final time.
Survivor Sandra Howie, 50, braved weeks of gruelling treatment and three operations after she was diagnosed with a tumour measuring almost four inches.
The mum-of-two initially visited her GP after complaining of constipation. However, her condition worsened and she began suffering agonising stomach pains.
Tests revealed cancer and she was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital for treatment.
“At first, I didn’t suffer any weight loss or pain,” she said. “I just noticed a change in my bowel habits.
“I went back and forth to my GP, but it just got worse and worse.”
Despite being hurried into surgery shortly after being diagnosed, Sandra, of Seaham, suffered complications and had to undergo a further two operations, on top of five weeks’ of intensive radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumour.
Now, almost two years after being given the devastating news she had the disease, she is in remission and back at work in the maternity unit at the same hospital where she underwent her treatment.
Later this year, Sandra expects to undergo a final op to correct the effects of the complications.
“It’s just good to get back to work,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting on with my life.”
Her experiences have also made her determined to raise awareness of bowel cancer and make sure women of all ages are aware of the risks.
“There are good survival rates if you catch the cancer early,” she said. “The difficulties start when it is left for too long.
“But those most at risk are thought to be men in the their 60s, not women in their 40s or 50s. Everyone needs to stay vigilant.”