A MUM who was deemed to be ‘at the end of her life’ now has a different outlook on the world following successful treatment.
The last two years have been challenging for us all, but more so for Katie Horan, who started to feel poorly just before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the first lockdown.
A brave battle with bowel cancer saw the 40-year-old and her family prepare for the worst as doctors confirmed the shock diagnosis.
But Katie, from Appleton, is now raising vital awareness of spotting life-saving symptoms and hoping to raise money for crucial research.
Following the festive period and some time away on holiday at the beginning of 2020, Katie put her symptoms of tummy discomfort down to a rich diet and overindulgence, but when she began to feel worse, she knew that there must be something more to it.
After seeing her GP, she was booked in for scan for what was initially believed to be gall stones, however by the end of May, Katie’s symptoms got so severe it was obvious she needed emergency help.
She went to A&E at Warrington Hospital where she had two emergency surgeries – one to remove a large blockage in her bowel and another for a life-threatening sepsis infection.
Mum-of-one, Katie said: “I was only 38 at the time, so never imagined that something like this would happen.
“I was put into an induced coma and my family were told to come and see me at a time when no visitors were allowed into hospitals, as I was deemed to be at end of life.
“Thankfully I pulled through, but I had to learn how to do many basic things like eating and walking before I was able to go home.
Katie ringing the bell signifying the end of her initial cancer treatment
“The mass that had been removed from my bowel had been sent for testing, and when recovering from my life-saving surgeries I was told I had stage-three bowel cancer.
“Myself and my family were devastated and knew that despite everything I had already been through, I still faced the challenges of treatment for the disease.”
After spending four weeks in hospital, Katie was able to go home to recover from surgery and to prepare for chemotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s chemotherapy clinic at Halton Hospital.
Treatment required visits to the unit every three weeks for chemotherapy via a drip, as well as taking chemotherapy tablets for the three weekly cycles.
Katie continued: “In total I had seven months of chemotherapy, and my experience of the care from the team there was just incredible.
“I had to attend appointments by myself so it was a lonely situation that really tested my resilience, but I cannot thank my team enough, particularly my nurses Louise, Clara and Jeanette.
“I know that I can contact them for support at any time, and whenever I do it is just like speaking to old friends. They are absolutely fantastic.”
Katie has now successfully completed her treatment and is in ‘surveillance’, where she has 12 monthly scans and blood tests every three months to make sure that she is still healthy and that the cancer has not returned.
Back at work, Katie also completed ‘Couch to 5k’ one year on from her diagnosis and has raised more than £2,000 for charities supporting other people having treatment for bowel cancer.
She says that her experience has changed her perspective in a good way, commenting: “I was lucky enough to have my stoma reversed earlier this year, and prior to the operation I was determined to get physically strong enough to undergo this additional surgery. Running seemed the perfect way to do this.
Kate has taken up running and used it to raise money for a cancer charity
“I also took part in the NHS SafeFit Trial, which is an amazing resource for cancer patients, regardless of their staging or prognosis.
“It might sound cliché, but me and my family definitely appreciate life and each other more now.
“We no longer put plans off for ‘one day’, but instead make the most of what we have and definitely enjoy doing things together more.
“It was an awful experience for us all, but it now feels far enough away that thanks to the excellent care I received from everyone involved, we can move on with our lives.”
Every 15 minutes, someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK.
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month, and The Clatterbridge Cancer Center is supporting the campaign to raise awareness of the disease, which if found early is treatable and curable.
Dr Danielle Shaw, consultant in medical oncology at Clatterbridge, said: “We are so pleased that Katie is thriving post treatment and wish her all the very best in her recovery journey.
“Bowel cancer is curable if found early, with the most common symptoms being bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo, a persistent or unexplained change in bowel habit and unexplained weight loss
“Other symptoms include extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and a pain or lump in your tummy.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, we would advise you to make an appointment with your GP.”