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Sefton resident urges others not to dismiss the signs of bowel cancer

LOCAL resident Erica Squire has shared the story of her bowel cancer journey during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and urges others to get checked out if they spot the signs of the disease. Bowel cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, but it is treatable and curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

Erica, who lives in Sefton, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 after attending Hospital with liver pain. She was referred for a colonoscopy and 5 tumours were found on her liver. She said:- "My prognosis wasn’t good and I was put on palliative chemotherapy, but despite the odds I am still here, after a very long battle."

Erica responded to her chemotherapy treatment better than expected and was referred to a specialist at Aintree Hospital after her tumours had shrunk enough to be able to operate on. In January 2018, she had part of her bowel removed and the tumours removed from her liver, followed by further chemotherapy and surgery. All of her scans to check for cancer have since been all clear.

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have 1 of the following combinations of symptoms, which Erica urges other residents to look out for:-

A persistent change in bowel habit:- pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.

Blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) - this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids.

Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating; sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

Erica said:- "When I was diagnosed I had a 10% chance of survival and I went through 2 rounds of chemotherapy. This had a huge impact on my mental and physical health, but this can be avoided if the disease is caught early. Everyone should go for screening as soon as they are eligible, and if you have any symptoms at all, get them checked out. There is a lot I have learned in hindsight. I now realise that there were signs that I ignored. I was tired a lot in the 6 or 7 months before my diagnosis. I wasn’t yawning as though I wanted to go to bed, it was a general weariness and heaviness and I felt worried, but I dismissed it. I had been to the doctor the previous year when I had passed a bit of blood and she asked if it could be something superficial and I said that it could be. She offered to examine me and I said it wasn’t necessary. In hindsight I should have had it investigated further."

Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:- "We’re urging people to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and if any of these develop, contact your GP to get them checked out and not be embarrassed. Early diagnosis really does save lives."

Dr Graeme Allan, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said:- "NHS bowel cancer screening is available to everyone aged 60 or over and 56 year olds. If you are also eligible for bowel cancer screening, make sure you complete your home test every 2 years when it gets sent out to you."

You can hear Erica talk about her experience on our CCG YouTube channels:-

For more information on bowel cancer, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment, visit the NHS website:- NHS.UK.  For more information about Bowel Cancer Awareness Month visit:-  BowelCancerUK.Org.UK.


Trainee Teacher wins Hair Stylist of the Year Award

A Trainee Teacher at the Hugh Baird University Centre has won the Hair Stylist of the Year Award at the prestigious English Hair and Beauty Awards 2022. The annual English Hair and Beauty Awards celebrates the best professionals and businesses within the ever thriving hair and beauty industry. Andrew, aged 38 from Liverpool, achieved a degree in Creative Make Up Design and Practice at the Hugh Baird University Centre and is now studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Andrew said:- "To be nominated for Hair Stylist of the Year was amazing. You go to these awards thinking ‘Will I win?’ But to go onto win the award is such an incredible and exciting experience. It’s great to have another accolade under my belt, this award will really help me out when I go for certain industry positions, especially if I want to continue working within TV."

Andrew, who is undertaking his teaching placement at Hugh Baird College, explains what his plans are after completing his PGCE:- "When I finish my PGCE in June I have an interview for a permanent teaching position within the hair and beauty department at Hugh Baird College. I have my fingers crossed that I can continue working with the fantastic students at the College."

Hair Stylist of the Year Andrew had a few words of advice for our students:- "Every day working in the industry is completely different, it’s an exciting environment to work in with so many different paths you can take; competition work, salon work, even TV and film. My 1 piece of advice for those who are interested in getting into the hair and beauty industry would be to try everything and see what suits the way you work best. Keep pushing towards your goals and don’t give up!"


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