April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK making it the fourth most common cancer in the UK. We talk to cancer survivor Alan Kleinman who says a positive attitude helped him pull through.
A ‘positive practical approach to life’ helped Alan Kleinman come to terms with a diagnosis of rectal cancer.
The 71 year-old surveyor first realised something might be wrong when he noticed blood in his stools and was fast-tracked by his GP to St Mark’s Hospital.
A colonoscopy revealed a tumour and several scans later Alan was faced with a life changing procedure.
Alan said: “It was reassuring to know St Mark’s had an international reputation and that the team were thoughtful, helpful and clear about what needed to be done.”
The initial four hour procedure to remove the infected section of intestine and attach a temporary stoma bag was followed two months later by a ‘reversal’ when the bag was removed and the two ends of the intestine re-joined internally.
One of the biggest challenges was Alan’s impatience with himself.
Alan said: “There have been a few small blips in my recovery but my condition has steadily improved and I’m back to feeling like my old self. I’m a naturally energetic person so my wife had to rein me in at times.
“I lost two stone but think a lot of that had to do with simply not having much of an appetite after the initial procedure. I’ve slowly put the weight back on.
“I’m not easily moved but when the consultant finally gave me the all clear I was totally overwhelmed, burst into floods of tears and hugged him.”
Alan attributes much of his recovery to a positive outlook and reaching out to people who had been through a similar experience.
“I focused on the positive and eliminated the negative. I also found it invaluable sitting down with people who had or were going a similar experience to get an insight of what to expect.
“My aim is to now get involved in some voluntary capacity with St Mark’s and offer personal input to inform and support patients who are going through a similar experience.”