"My poo saved my life" - Rugby mum shares her bowel cancer journey and the signs to look out for

Michelle Love.Michelle Love.
Michelle Love.
"I truly am one of the luckiest ladies alive. My cancer was caught early due to the bowel screening programme”

A Rugby mum who has battled cancer said she owes her life to bowel screening.

Michelle Love is now campaigning to help save other people’s lives through early diagnosis.

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Michelle said: “I can’t even describe how those words ‘you have bowel cancer’ on that sunny day screamed through every cell in my body; my smile literally fell through the floor and I knew from that moment my life was about to change significantly.

Smiling again: Michelle runs a magazine.Smiling again: Michelle runs a magazine.
Smiling again: Michelle runs a magazine.

“I had turned 56 last August and received an invitation to take part in the ‘Bowel Cancer Screening’ programme (the national age for an invitation had been lowered to 56). I was reluctant to complete the bowel cancer testing kit that arrived in the post shortly afterwards because I had no symptoms.”

She said the home test was simple, just a small sample of poo needs to be provided.

“My test result came through my letterbox within days and identified a need (there was blood in my poo, not visble to my eye) for further testing,” Michelle added.

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"This resulted in an appointment with a nurse in the Endoscopy Department at UHCW who talked me through the various investigatory

options. I was booked in for a colonoscopy in early December. The colonoscopy found a number of tiny polyps (small growths), two of which were removed then and there which is fairly normal, and sent for biopsies although it was thought they were probably benign.

“The consultant who gave me the ‘oh my god, am I going to die?’ news spent considerable time with me going through the treatment plan.”

She said although the cancerous polyp had been removed during the colonoscopy, further tests and surgery were needed.

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Michelle went on: “I couldn’t take the news in. Surely, this couldn’t be happening to me. I literally swayed between a million emotions; horror, fear, rage, sadness, positivity, strength and being very, very scared. Other than my husband, I didn’t know who to tell or how to tell my family. It was four days before Christmas - what a Christmas present!”

The magazine editor, who owns and runs Fresh Home & Living magazine, had an MRI and a CT scan the day before New Year’s Eve.

It was good news.

"The results showed the fabulous news that there was no evidence of disease elsewhere,” she said.

"I am sure I told my consultant that I loved him and I floated in gratitude for days.”

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She was referred to a colorectal surgeon for a consultation to discuss her options.

Michelle said: “It was agreed that I would have a surgical procedure, a re-excision of the cancerous polyp site. This surgery took place in early February.

“I truly am one of the luckiest ladies alive; the resulting procedure confirmed the amazing news that my body is currently showing no evidence of disease - my cancer was caught early due to the bowel screening programme.

“I am now on an ongoing surveillance plan, with regular scans and tests. I know I am not ‘out of the woods’ totally, there is a 92-93% chance my bowel cancer will NOT come back.

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“We should all be grateful for chances that we are given to check our health status. My treatment and the care by the NHS team at Coventry and Rugby was just out of this world; a first class service.”

Michelle is campaigning for people to be screened.

“I wouldn’t have known I had bowel cancer if I hadn’t been invited to take the test, which has probably saved my life,” she said.

“Cancer does not discriminate. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. However, the number of people dying has fallen in recent decades, with earlier diagnosis being the key. Yet still, the latest data shows that almost one third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit in England last year did not go on to complete it. The NHS bowel cancer screening kit detects signs of cancer before you noticeanything wrong.

"Detecting bowel cancer at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated. So if you’re aged 56 (60 in some areas) to 74 and registered with a GP practice, you’ll be sent a kit in the post automatically, every two years. Please take action.”

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Blood in your poo is one of the signs of bowel cancer, but can also be a sign of piles or polyps. Polyps are not cancer but could develop into cancer over time.

Michelle said: “I will always and forever be grateful for my chance and I am even more determined to squeeze every bit of zest out of life. Love and thanks to everyone who has supported me.

“My poo saved my life – it could save yours.”

Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you needing to poo more or less often than usual for you blood in your poo, which may look red or black bleeding from your bottom often feeling like you need to poo, even if you've just been to the toilet

Tummy pain


Losing weight without trying

Feeling very tired for no reason

These can also be signs of other conditions. Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/symptoms/

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