Updated: May 31, 2018
My name is Beth and I live in a village called Elsenham in Essex in the UK, half way between London and Cambridge. I am a 38-year-old mum of two medium-sized humans ages 7 and 9, wife to one husband, and owner of a horse, a pony, a dog and two guinea pigs. As if life wasn’t busy enough working full time while completing my law degree part-time and looking after the menagerie at home, I also became a stage 3 rectal cancer patient in September 2016 at age 37. Suddenly I had to add hospital appointments, various procedures, operations and chemotherapy into my life.
After having two children I thought I had lost all my dignity, well I have to tell you that childbirth has nothing on rectal cancer for dignity loss. I had to become accustomed to wearing hospital gowns and paper shorts with a convenient split down the butt -- attractive!
I have had many different doctors stick fingers and cameras up my bottom, in fact, these things happened so often it became quite normal to me. I’ve had a hole between my rectum and vagina with poop coming through my vagina, I won’t go into detail here, there is nothing funny about pooping through your vagina.
Aside from the frankly odd and slightly awkward situations I have found myself in, there have been some amusing moments along the way. For a while I had an ileostomy, when this was reversed I had to struggle with trying to regain bowel control with no rectum, turns out your rectum is a really useful piece of kit. One evening I had my friends over as I wasn’t brave enough to leave the house and the comfort of my own toilet. After my 94th (I might be exaggerating just a tiny bit) visit to the toilet that night we got to discussing how medicine really was not that advanced, you know they can transplant hearts but not rectums, and they can make false legs but not false rectums.
We came up with a full list of items that could potentially replace your rectum some of my favourites being; balloons, socks, and condoms. Just imagining my very serious surgeon in his scrubs with his awesome laparoscopic machines casually attaching a sock between colon and anus made me laugh, quite a lot.
In November this year I found out I was actually stage 4 and incurable with metastasis in my lungs and because bad news is a bit like buses, all coming at once, at the same time it also became apparent that I needed to go back to having an ostomy, and the decision was made to form a permanent colostomy and sew my bottom up entirely. I now have a Barbie Butt, and we all know that Barbie has the most unachievable figure known to man, but I am one step closer!
The new development of lung tumours means more chemo and this time I might lose my hair, yes cancer is the gift that keeps on giving, so along with my new Barbie Butt I am wondering whether to go Barbie blonde too and perhaps I should acquire a pink plastic car, sorry Sindy you were just never cool enough.
I get told all the time that I am brave, I do not feel brave, I did not have a choice in dealing with cancer. I do however have a choice about how I deal with cancer, I can either sit around being miserable and feeling sorry for myself wasting time, or I can go out and really live life.
I choose life.
I don’t know how much life I have left but I certainly intend to make the most of it. How am I doing that you ask? I am campaigning to help others not go through what I have, I am spending as much time as possible with those I love, and most importantly I am not letting cancer get me down.
I recently re-watched a family favourite with my daughter, "Mary Poppins," and I plan to laugh cancer into submission just like Uncle Albert and Dick Van Dyke, now sing along with me: “I love to laugh, loud and long and clear, I love to laugh, It's getting worse every year, the more I laugh, the more I fill with glee, and the more the glee, the more I'm a merrier me, it's embarrassing, the more I'm a merrier me...”