Caroline Dove describes her experience of bowel cancer screening

Caroline Dove is an architect specialising in housing. A music lover, she sings in a choir and also enjoys gardening and cooking. She’s very active, regularly cycling, walking and visiting her granddaughter: “Like all toddlers, she’s very full on – I need to be able to keep up”.

An Islington resident, aged 67, Caroline received the FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) in the post as part of the national screening programme.

“It was my third time completing the kit and I assumed the results would be the same as usual.

I’ve had slight IBS for most of my life, but at the time of receiving the test, I actually felt better than I ever had. I had no symptoms and, for the first time in a long time, was feeling normal.

So when I got a phone-call a few weeks later saying I needed the follow-up, I couldn’t believe it.

My husband had received his kit a few years earlier and had also been called in for a colonoscopy. He was diagnosed with cancer, had treatment, and thankfully made a good recovery.

When I also got called in, I assumed I was going to be the same as my husband. I thought: What are the odds?

Everything happened very quickly. The colonoscopy was booked for the following week. It was so much better than I expected – without even discomfort. It really helped I had clear instructions in advance for any prep. I had the same nurse throughout, and even had the same doctor who treated my husband, so I knew I was in good hands.

To my enormous relief, while I had very small polyps, there wasn’t any cancer. I don’t need any further tests and now I’m back to the regular screening schedule.

I now consider myself such an advocate for doing the FIT test. It’s easy. It isn’t messy. I told my neighbour who had their test sitting on a shelf: Just do it. The sooner you do it the better.

If you end up with a cancer diagnosis, like my husband did, the sooner you get treated the better. If you get the all-clear like I did, the sooner you can have peace of mind. Both my husband and I had a good experience and benefitted from the test.

You hear so much right now about the NHS and people struggling to see doctors, but not about all the parts that are working well. I want to express my thanks to everyone in the NHS who delivered such excellent and well-managed care.”

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