Judy Place ~ Bowel Cancer update

Judy Place ~ Bowel Cancer update

Originally published in Issue 1 2005 icon

Judy Place

My Other Life Is Starting Again

Judy Place went through a year of agony, bouts of diarrhoea and bleeding, and several misdiagnoses before she was finally told she had bowel cancer on December 19 2000. Because she had a newborn baby, one doctor even put her problems down to post-natal depression!

Judy had a major operation to remove a golf-ball-size tumour and eight inches of bowel in December 2001. She also had reconstructive surgery and a temporary ileostomy, to allow the area to heal. The brave 33 year old could handle all that, but what really hurt was missing her daughter’s first Christmas.>

She was determined to be out of hospital by New Year’s Day to celebrate Hannah’s first birthday - and she was. When Judy wrote her story for icon, in September 2002, she was getting her life together again and felt like a "proper mum for the first time", after a severely debilitating course of radiotherapy which sent her into an early menopause. It also shrunk the area of the bowel that had been reconstructed, so more surgery was needed to help with the problems that caused. Judy’s life has changed a lot since then and as she unpacked boxes, after moving to Bedford, she told us how.

"I so enjoyed writing for icon that I’ve recently started a writers’ course. I’m also starting a new job later this month, and feel like I’ve come back home as I lived in Bedford before for 12 years. The best thing, though, is that I’m beginning to sleep well after four years of disturbed nights!

Open quotesI’m beginning to sleep well after four years of disturbed nightsClose quotes


It took me two years to recover from the radiotherapy. I had a couple of rough winters, getting tonsilitis a lot of the time and feeling very tired. A lot of it was due to the early menopause that the radiotherapy started, and having a toddler waking up at night as well. Now that I am back on a very low dose (2mg) of a new HRT drug everything’s a lot better.


I’ve come off HRT twice, since 2002, to see if my ovaries would work again, but I just got hot flushes and sleepless nights. I may come off it again, though, because a scan I had a month ago showed that my right ovary has started to regrow, which they can’t explain medically. I’ve certainly got some hormones doing something.

Both ovaries were shrunk by the radiotherapy, but this scan showed that the one on the right has definitely doubled in size in the last two years. I’ve also just had my annual bowel cancer scan and everything seems fine. My consultant, Professor Keighley, retired last July and he referred me from Birmingham to one of his colleagues in Oxford, because he wanted me to be seen by a specialist. I’m glad I’ve got all my scans out of the way before I start work later this month. Now that Hannah is five, and at school, I’m going to be a school learning mentor - a new government initiative to help those who are underachieving to achieve. My other life is starting again, and I’ll be able to work term time only around Hannah’s school hours, which is fantastic!

Judy Place


I did something I never would have thought possible a few years ago, and that was a 5km run - I actually did two of them! The first one, the Flora Light in Birmingham, was easy, but I really struggled with the one I ran for Colon Cancer Concern last June, because I’d had tonsilitis and hadn’t been able to train. My husband, Simon, ran that one with me and we both made it.


I’m so looking forward to a return to normality - and I’m nearly there. It will be a shock to go back to work, but it will be something outside of cancer and Hannah and I need that. I’m enjoying my writing course and would like to write a book eventually. Whenever soap operas, and programmes like Holby City, mention the word ’cancer’, people die instantly, but there’s so much good going on and I feel that, apart from in icon, it’s not in the public arena enough. I want to write about my personal experiences to show people there’s definitely life after cancer."

For more information on bowel cancer visit the Colon Cancer Concern website at www.coloncancer.org.uk, or call the CCC Infoline on 08708 50 60 50.

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