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How a home bowel cancer test kit saved the life of a Black Country grandmother

A Black Country grandmother has credited a home bowel cancer test kit with saving her life.

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Catherine Wigley

Catherine Wigley took a Faecal Immuochemical Test (FIT) after she experienced the need to go to the toilet more often and noticed a change in her bowel habits.

The retired childminder, from Bloxwich, now thinks it was a lucky coincidence the FIT test came through her letterbox just before she was going to contact her GP for an appointment.

The 67-year-old said: “I encourage everyone to participate in the screening tests and don’t ignore these as it was the FIT test that sped up my diagnosis and essentially saved my life.”

Within two weeks of her FIT test, Catherine attended New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton to have a colonoscopy – a test to check inside the bowel – and received her diagnosis the same day.

Her husband, Phil, and the bowel cancer screening specialist practitioners supported her and made her feel at ease, but she was determined to remain positive throughout.

Catherine spent 10 days in hospital after surgery to remove the cancer and didn’t need a colostomy bag.

She was able to spend Christmas with her family which she said was “the best present she could’ve ever wished for".

To prevent the cancer from coming back, Catherine had preventative chemotherapy which involved taking tablets at home every day for set periods of time.

After blood tests, CT scans and another colonoscopy, Catherine was given the news that her cancer has now cleared.

She said: “Last month I was given the best news of my life. All thanks to the NHS FIT test this was caught early and put me in a good position as the earlier diagnosed, the better the outcome.

“As difficult as it may seem, keep positive as much as possible and lean on the loved ones around you. It is important to talk to people and share your feelings.

“I used to write/journal my thoughts and feelings throughout my treatment as I felt this helped me and maybe one day my children and grandchildren can read my story through this time of my life.

“Many people hear the word cancer and go to pieces as they feel this will lead to a negative outcome. If more people participated in screening, then hopefully there will be more positive stories like mine.”

Claire Higgs, bowel cancer screening specialist practitioner at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, added: “Catherine’s experience highlights the importance of completing the FIT kit.

“If you are sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit, put it by the loo as a reminder and don’t put it off. It increases the chance of identifying bowel cancer at an early stage.”

NHS bowel cancer screening checks for the disease and is available to everyone aged 60 to 74.

The programme is expanding to become available to everyone aged 50 to 59.

Find out more on the NHS website at