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An award from the Prime Minister was lovely but this is the start to the year I really hoped for – a 9 year all clear colonoscopy!

I was pretty confident all would be well but once the cannula goes in and you put on these fetching paper underpants – the sudden realisation of how quickly life can change kicks in again.
Hearing…and seeing…that all was well was simply the best news I could ask for.

I know bowel movements aren’t the most talked about topic but it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

Bowel cancer rates are on the rise so if you have any of the following issues please see a doctor as soon as possible.

– Blood in your stool
– Fatigue
– Changes in bowel habit
– Bloating or pain in your stomach
– Unexplained weight loss

I was 30 when I was diagnosed and my only symptom was tiredness. I knew something wasn’t right and I kept going back to the doctor until further investigation led to a colonoscopy and the discovery of a 10cm tumour in my large bowel.

That early diagnosis by the team at UCH not only helped save my life but also helped reduce further complications down the line.

So please don’t mess around and don’t ever be embarrassed to talk about your bowel habits. It might just save your life!

PREVENTION OF BOWEL CANCER

The good news about Bowel Cancer is there are things you can do to help prevent it.

Doctors believe my bowel cancer was caused by the extensive radiotherapy I had as a child.
This radiotherapy had damaged numerous parts of my body including my bowel but looking back I definitely didn’t look after myself in my 20’s.

I let my job stress me out, I worked shifts, I ate fast food on the go at all times of the day and night so my body clock was all over the place, I binge drank, for 4 years I lived on one of the busiest roads in London, I didn’t exercise much and I spent the majority of my day sitting in London traffic going from crime scene to crime scene, seeing things that nobody should ever see.

As someone who had experienced cancer before, I was already prone to getting it again but I am confident that if I had dealt with work related stress effectively, eaten the right diet, given up drinking sooner and exercised more, I wouldn’t be sitting here now with half of my bowel missing.

So gang, here are some things you can do to significantly lower your chances of getting bowel cancer:-

– Eliminate processed meat from your diet. This includes ham, bacon, sausages etc. Processed meat has been classed as a group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. Group 1 is the same group as tobacco and plutonium! 🥓

– Exercise 🏃‍♂️

– Stay at a healthy weight

– Eat lots of fruit of veg and keep your system flushed!;) 🍉 🍅

– Eat no or less red meat! This is also good for the environment. 🥩

– STOP or reduce your intake of alcohol. Definitely don’t binge drink! 🍺 🍷

– Don’t smoke 🚭

– Avoid chronic stress 😧

Live long and prosper!

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#bowelcancer

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If you have any type of pre-existing medical condition including cancer and need travel insurance then these guys are the people to see.
Because of insurancewith I was able to travel the world at an affordable price with all my ‘conditions’ covered!
Check them out and if you can, please share and take a moment to vote for them for the British Travel Awards. CLICK TO VOTE

They deserve all the publicity and recognition they can get for enabling those with disabilities to travel at an affordable rate.

 

Visit their website here  – insurancewith

 

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Last week I had the honour of speaking at the Northern European Conference on Travel Medicine in London – an amazing event that attracts nurses, doctors and health professionals from all over the continent who descend on London to hear the latest from world class speakers at the top of their medical fields (….and then me!). I have given a lot of talks over the years, but this was definitely one of the highlights of my speaking career. It was the ideal platform for me to get across a message I feel so passionately about, and one that I feel is vital for every health professional to hear – particularly those advising people on travel.

Our medical history does not define us.

When someone is going through a tough time, facing serious illness, or intensive treatment, it is really easy for health professionals or friends and family to advise against travel. After all, it is in unnecessary risk…things could go wrong. What happens if you get sick abroad? What about medication? What about insurance? There are so many reasons not to travel. But it could also be the best thing you ever do for yourself, both physically and mentally.

On paper, I am a medical nightmare (cancer twice, one kidney, half a bowel, DVT, PTSD and in remission for bowel cancer). But 5 years ago, in my anxious/insomniac/post-cancer state, I was lucky enough to have an open-minded professor who could see that travel was the best possible treatment for me. His words of encouragement gave me goosebumps when I broached the subject of travelling “Greig, i think that is a marvellous idea.”

All of the potential problems I foresaw were overcome with some planning and preparation. I stocked up on medication, I took my INR device with me to test my blood as I went, I had 6 monthly checks up at hospitals around the world and most of all I listened to my body.

Despite my plethora of ‘problems’, I also found affordable travel insurance with an amazing company called Insurancewith.com , which was set-up by a woman who had had breast cancer and struggled to get insured for a holiday during her chemo. She later set up this amazing company.

My trip was without a doubt the best medicine I could have had at what was my worst time. But, as Ive said in the past, it wasn’t even just the trip itself that made me feel better. It was the months of research, route-planning, and excited preparation that lead up to it that started to make me feel better. And Ive retrospectively discovered why this was. Our brains can’t really distinguish between reality and imagination – so even just visualising yourself doing something you enjoy can be enough to release the feel-good chemicals in your brain. So by imagining myself on these adventures, doing amazing things, I was already changing my emotional state. And as my mental health approved, my physical health soon followed. My stress-induced eczema cleared up, I started sleeping – I was rediscovering my old self again.

Now I know that obviously travel may not be possible for everyone, either physically or financially. But if it is what you really want to do, I would just encourage you to have some long chats with your doctor about the potential risks and benefits. It could be the best decision you ever make.

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For further advice and information on health travel please visit nathnac.net.

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