I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer following a routine colonoscopy in August 2008. This wasn’t a huge surprise as I had suffered from Ulcerative Colitis for about 40 years. I decided at the outset that I was going to be as positive as possible and learn as much as I could on the journey that lay ahead. What followed was amazing and all of it totally reassuring. After the diagnoses, we were due to go on holiday a couple of days later. Jay Bradbury, the wonderful nurse in charge of the team, told us to go away, have a great time, which we did, and when we returned everything would be in place. It was. Every appointment, scan, dates for five weeks of radiotherapy and some chemotherapy was all in place. Everything went very smoothly and, thankfully, to plan. The only low point of the whole process was the after effects of the radiotherapy treatment, which left me very sore for some time.
Every appointment, scan, dates for five weeks of radiotherapy and some chemotherapy was all in place.
The tumour had almost disappeared, but not quite, so a date for my operation was fixed. A date etched on my memory forever! Everything leading up to the operation went without a hitch and everyone I met was kind and reassuring. I was admitted to the JR, the opening of the new facilities at The Churchill had been delayed, so I didn’t experience them at that point. (That part of my story comes a bit later). After a bit of a discussion about anaesthetics, I was put to sleep and Prof Mortensen and his team performed ‘an abdominoperineal resection and formation of colostomy’. Once up on the ward the nurses, both from the ward and the colorectal team, could not have been more patient and caring, and not only that Prof Mortensen appeared by my bedside within a couple of days to see how I was doing! Of course, getting over major surgery takes time and getting used to a stoma is challenging. I found that developing a positive attitude, being determined to be in charge, rather than let the stoma take over, was helpful for me. After leaving the hospital and having one home visit, I kept in touch with the team as long as was necessary. Because I had a prolapsed stoma as well as a hernia, quite common I believe this contact was longer than it might have been.
…Prof Mortensen appeared by my bedside within a couple of days to see how I was doing!
Eventually, after some hiccups, I was readmitted, this time to the relatively new facilities at the Churchill Hospital, to have the hernia and stoma fixed. Again the whole experience was positive, and although it was nearly 18 months later, the nurse charged with my care recognised me from my earlier time in hospital. I was pleased to get this sorted as I was keen to be taught how to ‘irrigate’. It was the team who took me under their wing and showed me what to do, as they had done previously. This entailed three visits on consecutive days, after which I was up and away.
At no point during the whole process did I feel anxious or that the care I received from the team could have been any better. Anything anyone can do to promote and further the work of ‘OCCTOPUS’ will be time and/or money well spent. My wife and I will be forever grateful to Prof. Neil Mortensen and the Stoma and Colorectal Nursing Team in Oxford.