Patient Stories

Zoe Allen

Zoe Allen

I am Zoe Allen, I'm 35 and firstly I am mother to 3 fantastic children, Kai who's 13, Jude 5 and Leni Rose who is 8 months, secondly I am a wife to my wonderful husband Gregg.

I also have Bowel cancer.

I have never been what you may class as regular, with regards to going to the loo, more a 'once every three or four days' kinda girl. But when I have been pregnant with my children my bowels slowed even more, nothing unusual about that I hear many women with kids cry, but in my third pregnancy this was accompanied by bleeding, I sought advice for and was told that piles are also common in pregnancy.

Armed with tubes of Anusol, and taking lots of lactulose I managed to go almost 16 weeks without a poo!  I was admitted to hospital to be observed at this point as no one could believe I had gone so long. I was 32 weeks pregnant when I received the terrible news - I had advanced bowel cancer.

My beautiful baby girl was born by C-section on the 8th January 2010, 5 weeks early, so I could begin the long process of treatment to get myself well. 6 weeks post C-section I began 5 weeks of chemo-radiation.

A few weeks later I was scanned and found to have had an amazing response - the tumour was shrinking and I was booked in for surgery.

On the 20th May I awoke to find a large zipper scar on my belly, a stoma and accompanied by a bag.  Tumour was successfully removed and the histology report showed that the chemo-radiation had destroyed all the cancer cells. Unfortunately this is not the end of my story as, on a follow up scan, I was found to have two small spots of cancer on my liver, so surgery was booked in at a specialist unit in Basingstoke with Mr. Rees, in my humble opinion the man with the best hands in the business. I now resemble a very unique patchwork quilt but I'm still here! The next stage is to have further chemo to improve my chances of survival.

There have been many tears shed, but a negative experience can turn positive!

I have great support from my family and friends, and I couldn't do any of this without them. Cancer has made me appreciate the good friends that I have and enabled me to meet many new ones. I received a lot of care and support from many of the staff at Ipswich hospital - radiographers, the stoma team, surgeons, oncologists, Macmillan nurses and from these I have built some wonderful friendships! It was time to give something back.

It was during chemo-radiation that I realised that I wanted to make a difference to others. I set about thinking of ways I could raise awareness and hopefully save some lives. I am a bit of a control freak and cancer is one thing that cannot be controlled. It doesn't discriminate and it is not predictable. I was incredibly frightened of having treatment and surgery and a thought struck me that I was as frightened of the surgery as I was of flying!!  So to combat this I did a tandem sky-dive. Myself and my good friend Zoe raised £6000, some eyebrows and much awareness!

The photo is of me with Lynn's husband John Stapleton


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