Yeah. Down there. Into the bowl of shame. Or if you are unlucky enough to have the most unreliable of digestive systems, you might think of it as the bowl of pride. Look at what you made! And if it rates well on the Boston stool chart (if you know…you know) you might just give yourself a little high five.

But if you look down and see blood alongside your furry floaters, it’s time to make an appointment to see your GP. If the blood is bright pinky red, it’s most likely haemorrhoids and not a big deal but NOT DEFINITIVELY! If the blood is dark red, you really need to get it checked out. I ignored this exact stuff for three weeks before my diagnosis. It’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and it’s my civic responsibility to insist you sort your literal shit out.

Which leads me to poo shame.

I used to joke with close friends that if I was to get cancer (this is actually true by the way…I have sick conversations with people close to me), it would most likely be the kind of cancer that is extremely embarrassing. Namely, anal cancer. (Sidebar: Farrah Fawcett is the most famous celebrity to have bravely named her anal cancer for what it was. Go Farrah!) My theory was that I have basically been treated for every embarrassing illness known to the medical community. I could have been on that ITV show Embarrassing Illnesses several times over. I was once taken via ambulance from work to hospital in agony with suspected appendicitis, only for the X-Rays to reveal I had “the most amount of impacted poo” the doctor had ever seen inside a living person. I’ve had so many urinary tract infections, now I have trimethoprim on repeat script and ready for action. (Calm down medical people…I always do a urine screen to check the bacteria etc etc…spoiler…E.Coli every time – and YES I wipe front to back…eye roll…sigh…)

So I sort of had an inkling that if cancer was coming my way, it would be in the less marketable form. Don’t get me wrong, your pink ribbon days and fun runs have done marvellous things for breast cancer research and I for one, am incredibly grateful.

But if colorectal cancer was an Olympic sport, it would be synchronised swimming. I mean, we all know it’s a sport and it looks quite hard to do, but the stands aren’t packed with people wearing brown once a year. Brown ribbon day would be a hard sell. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind donning a poo emoji t-shirt once a year for Bowel Cancer Awareness Week. On the back it would simply say, Everybody Poos. The actual logo is an apple. I don’t get it though. Something about a worm…and early detection…poo emoji would certainly get more clicks.

Now that I have bowel cancer I feel zero shame. In fact, my cancer is in the sigmoid colon which is almost the rectum which is a one way ticket to anal town. The truth is, cancer is cancer and there isn’t a good kind. I don’t even think about the poo shame anymore.

Dr Duenna actually told me the other day that many of her patients take pics of their toilet bowls to show her during consultations. That’s how desensitised we are to the poo shame. “Hey Doc, check this one out! Tapered ends and everything!”

The reality is that doctors have seen so much arse in their daily work, so many haemorrhoids, so many polyps, so much poo, that yours isn’t really that special. And once you’ve been seen by a gastroenterologist or proctologist for a colonoscopy, I mean, these people have literally dabbled in shit their entire specialised careers. My favourite of these is on Instagram as TheButtDoctor and I highly recommend following his account for a laugh and a read. He is the best at allaying your fears around poo shame and also teaching you stuff about your bowels.

And so…

Check your poo. Look for blood or changes in consistency.

Monitor your weight…if you’ve lost some for no reason…get checked out.

Speak to your GP about abdominal pain or unusual bloating or weird changes to your bowel habits.

If you have a family history of bowel cancer, insist on a colonoscopy.

Bowel cancer is treatable if detected early.


If you avoid any of the above because you are embarrassed to speak to a doctor about your poo, remember…even Princess Kate lays cable every morning and it doesn’t smell like Chanel No. 5.

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2 thoughts on “Just a heads up to occasionally look down

  1. Inga Davison says:

    I must remember not to read your posts at work…… colleagues are constantly asking me what I’m reading as I try to suppress my laughter!!! Just done my 50th birthday free poo test recently.

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