We have the most inspirational story to share. Rebecca went from a diagnosis of bowel cancer, stoma surgery and four cardiac arrests to running a half marathon and taking part in triathlons. Rebecca is proof that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible, however tough the odds are! You can follow Rebecca on Twitter at @Resus2Runner
There is such a stigma around having a stoma, yet I wish I had been given the option to have the surgery years before I was!
Living with Ulcerative Colitis
After being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 19, I lost any hope of my dream career in the Royal Navy and had to drop out of university after two years with a diploma, as I was too ill to finish the final year. Every part of my life was affected; social life, work, and sport, which I love!
Any trip was kept short and longer journeys were carefully planned with frequent toilet stops! My ‘toilet-radar’ worked overtime, constantly working out where the next toilet was, and my anxiety was high worrying whether I would get there in time. I had regular iron infusions as I was passing blood with the diarrhoea. For eleven years I struggled to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible, whilst worrying everyday about getting to a toilet in time. I dreamt of a cure, but was told that the symptoms can only be controlled; I was living in a nightmare.
Bowel Cancer Diagnosis
At the age of 30 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer; words nobody wants to hear! But for me there was a small glimmer of hope at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. The surgery I needed to remove the four tumours on my bowel would involve the removal of my entire colon and the creation of a stoma, something I didn’t really know much about. My stoma nurses visited me in the weeks before my surgery and told me what to expect but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the enormity of the surgery.
It took me weeks in hospital to recover from the surgery. I struggled to adjust to my new life with a stoma, but having the surgery was the best decision I had ever had made for me; I just wish I had been given the option for surgery years earlier! Following the initial recovery, my life is so much easier with a stoma than colitis; I have to be careful about hydration and hernia prevention but it’s so much easier.
I suffered a severe reaction to the chemotherapy I was given after my surgery and spent a week in Intensive Care fighting for my life. I weighed only 42 kilos and was dependent on machines and medical staff to keep me alive. I dreamt of walking or jogging 5 kilometres within a year of my treatment, but miraculously, after an initially slow recovery I ran my first ever half marathon 16 months after leaving Intensive Care.
My book is about my journey from cancer diagnosis through chemotherapy and cardiac arrest to triathlons and a half marathon: https://www.lulu.com/shop/rebecca-langley/control-alt-delete-from-resus-to-runner/paperback/product-24245213.html
My interview for ITV national news after my half marathon: https://www.itv.com/news/2018-09-10/inspiring-britain-a-year-on-from-four-heart-attacks-cancer-survivor-completes-half-marathon/