Stephen was diagnosed at just 43 after 10 months delay. His symptoms included a pain in his right side and breathlessness. Stephen says ' I had several scans and blood tests which all seemed to come back clear but then after 10 months a Barium Enema showed up a tumor the size of an orange'
The tumor had gone through the bowel wall and attached itself to the abdominal wall. Stephen was operated on at the Roundhay Hospital in Leeds by eminent surgeon Paul Finan. 13 lymph nodes were also removed some were affected by the cancer.
Stephen says ' the operation I had was called a Right Hemicolectomy and I was the first patient in the UK to be given a new form of Chemo called Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy'
After the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis Stephen’s first reaction was ‘why me’. Stephen had always had a healthy life style – non smoker – didn’t drink to excess – ate well. So he felt it was unfair. Once he had come to terms with the diagnosis he decided he was going to beat the cancer and then tell everyone about it. His mum was devastated and said he shouldn’t tell anyone about it. His first response was to try and reconcile Stephen and his brother who hadn’t spoken in months. Julie (Stephen’s wife) was devastated and scared because she’d never known anyone to survive cancer. Stephen’s strength carried her through.
In the recovery room after the op groggy from the anaesthesia Stephen told the nurse that the first thing he was going to do when he got out of hospital was to marry Julie and that was how talk of marriage began.
Stephen changed GPs after 10 months of misdiagnosis and it was while sitting in the waiting room that Julie saw a leaflet Lynn Faulds Wood had written. She rang and left a message and Lynn called back. Lynn then called back a couple of times a week during the worst of it all.
Stephen says ‘’ Having someone that had not only been through it herself but who was high profile be interested and showed she cared was a real boost for me and Julie’’