- What my old friend put on Facebook really hit me for six…
- But she has a powerful message about GPs and the medical establishment
- If this warning helps someone not to get bowel cancer, then it’s worth it
I had some shocking news the other week…
It was a Facebook update from a friend of mine.
I’ve not seen her for a few years, but we don’t live in the same town and you know how life is…. with a young family (and weekly newsletters to research!) I don’t get to visit everyone as regularly as I used to.
My friend is another writer but she’s far, far better than me.
(I know, can you believe it?)
She writes books about relationships that do very well indeed.
Anyway, she appears on Facebook a fair bit, with news of her various projects, but she’s kept a low profile for the past few months.
In a startling status update she revealed that she has bowel cancer.
It was something she’s been dealing with in private since Christmas, but felt it was time that her wider circle of friends should know.
The real shock to was that she’s the same age as me – only in her mid-40s.
I know that these things can strike at any time, any age, and nothing is certain in life…
But bowel cancer?
Well, it hit me for six.
It’s highly likely that you’ve experiences of friends and family who have become ill, so I don’t want to single someone out as deserving special sympathy – you don’t even know her!
No, the reason I am tell you her story in today’s email is because she also put something on her Facebook (with permission to share) that I think might chime with a lot of my readers.
If her warning message helps ONE person, then it’s worth it
What might, or might not, shock you is that took a lot longer for my friend get diagnosed than it really should…
TWO YEARS in fact.
Largely this was because of her relatively young age. On paper she didn’t fit the usual profile of a cancer sufferer.
It was also because of a deeper issue I’ve written about in The People’s Doctor…
In these financially troubled times, British GPs are under huge pressure. They deal with patients whose history they don’t get to know in depth. They have to cope with not only large numbers of seriously unwell patients, but also people with health niggles and problems they don’t feel deserve serious attention.
This is why they sometimes seek shortcuts, quick solutions, and ways to get you in and out of the local surgery more quickly than they should.
I know this to be true from a relative who is a doctor. He says that the GP is primarily a gatekeeper to the specialists who work in clinics and hospitals. Part of their job is to minimise that pressure of too many people going for unnecessary tests and expensive procedures.
Perhaps this is necessary….
But the downside is that huge health problems can be missed…
The justified concerns of genuinely ill people are sometimes dismissed as ‘hypochondria’, ‘over-reaction’ or ‘related to personal troubles’.
With that in mind, here’s the message my friend wrote. I’ll pass it on wholesale without editing.
I think this is worth reading, however old you are.
“Public Announcement: =54r54Do not assume that your GP is fully competent or cleverer than you…
If your bowel movements have changed for more than three months and you have got blood in your stools (sorry, folks, no politer way of putting it) absolutely insist on having a colonoscopy.
I was fobbed off by my GPs for two years and told twice I didn’t have bowel cancer.
Finally I insisted on a colonoscopy…
I was too respectful of the GPs.
I was not hypochondriac enough.
A lot of people I’ve met in the radiotherapy unit were similarly fobbed off by their GPs (and this goes for all different types of cancer).
If you’re under 50, not a smoker, not a heavy drinker, not obese, look healthy your GP may well fob you off.
Even if you are in a high risk group you may still get fobbed off.
Especially if you’ve previously suffered from anxiety – they will probably assume you’re a neurotic.
You know your body better than your GP.
Thankfully, my cancer was caught before it had spread but if I hadn’t insisted on a colonoscopy I could be in a much worse position than I am now, with a much worse prognosis.”
So there you have it from someone going through a genuine health crisis…
You have to stand up for your own body
This not to attack doctors and nurses, but to illustrate how important it is to.
• Take control of your own health…
• Seek out knowledge and information yourself, so that you’re better able to ask questions, challenge and insist on help…
• Never assume that the medical establishment knows all things at all times….
• Ask questions and push for answers
This is why I hope the People’s Doctor gives you more confidence and more awareness to do all of the above.
As always, there’s free information, tips and advice on our website The People’s Doctor.
Have a browse and read through our articles on remedies, diets and supplements that can help protect your body from serious disease…. As well as advice on dealing with the things GPs struggle to take seriously – or do anything about – such as chronic pain, insomnia and psychological issues.
Public warnings aside, my friend is being really brave about her condition. She’s optimistic that, despite a delay in diagnosis, it’s going to be okay.
Remember, if you’re worried about a serious health problem, don’t ignore it. Talk to a professional!
Until next time.