By CHRISTINE MACFAYDEN
Two years ago my life changed forever. Within the space of a month, both my Dad and my brother were diagnosed with bowel cancer. Whilst Dad battles on two years later, we lost my brother after just three months and I miss him every day. We found a bowel cancer test kit in my brother’s top drawer after he passed away, unused. It had sat in his drawer for two years. Had he taken the test, it may have saved his life.
It all started when we noticed that my father had lost weight and had blood in his bowel movements. At 81, the doctor told my mother he was not concerned. Mum pressed further and a colonoscopy was booked however it could not take place as the ‘blockage’ would not allow it. On 8 November 2011, a scan revealed Dad had bowel cancer. It had already spread to his liver, lungs and kidneys. An operation to remove the blockage went well and he did not need a bag or anything else. He was given two years, which has just gone.
I was with Mum when Dad had his operation. My mother told me at the time that she was worried about my brother Andrew as he was losing weight too. I suggested he see the doctor but he didn’t act. On 3 December 2011, Andrew was taken to hospital with a pain in his right side. We thought it would be his appendix, but a month after my father was diagnosed, my brother Andrew was told he had bowel cancer too. It was in the same spot as Dad’s and had spread to his liver. Seventy per cent of his liver was affected. It was inoperable. The doctors patted him on the shoulder.
Andrew was in hospital for his birthday on 10 December, and over the Christmas week. He came out of hospital and saw his mates at the bowling club to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Mum battled to have him home, the hospital bed was moved in, and then of course it was morphine.
At 81, Mum faced losing both her husband and her son to bowel cancer. My brother at 56 had not prepared any papers, so it was a race against time to ensure everything was in place. At the end of January, he was moved into palliative care. My mother, father and I visited Andrew each day and tried to bring sunshine into his last days.