‘Get checked out’ urges Queen Alexandra Hospital nurse who is battling bowel cancer

A NURSE from Queen Alexandra Hospital who is facing his own battle with stage 3 cancer has urged other people to ‘go get checked’.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:47 am
John Arnell, 45, at home with his family.

John Arnell, 45, had been working on the Covid frontline and had put his tiredness and stomach cramps down to the stresses and strains of the coronavirus crisis.

The dedicated nurse, who had been working on the rehabilitation of Covid patients, said: ‘It was a really busy period at the hospital so it was all hands on deck. I felt really tired all the time, with a slight cramping feeling in my side, but I just put it down to being busy on the ward.’

It wasn’t until John was referred to the Maxillofacial Department to have a lump removed, his anaesthetist realised John’s iron levels were extremely low so contacted his GP for further tests.

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Nurse John Arnell receiving treatment for bowel cancer at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

From that point, it was a rollercoaster of a journey for John and his family where he would later find out that he had stage 3 bowel cancer.

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John, who lives in Copnor, added: ‘After numerous tests with my GP, I was referred back to the hospital where I was put on the two-week cancer waiting list, which is when they realised I had bowel cancer.

‘I just cried. It was such a shock. I was trying to comfort my partner while taking in the news that I had cancer.’

John has now had the tumour removed and while he still needs to undergo chemotherapy treatment he wanted to urge anyone who is experiencing potential cancer symptoms – particularly people who have been more reluctant to come forward during the pandemic – to contact their GP.

He said: ‘I know people are worried about coming into hospital but it is vitally important to get checked out if you are concerned. I just put my fatigue down to being busy at work, but I should’ve noticed something wasn’t right and the care I have received throughout the whole process has been fantastic.

‘You really don’t know what can happen in life, you have to enjoy it and make things happen. I have changed my lifestyle drastically by stopping smoking and I am going to keep myself much fitter.

‘I am looking forward to the future with my family, all thanks to the swift actions from the clinical teams.’

John was keen to make people aware of his story during Bowel Cancer Awareness month which runs throughout April.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding from your bottom and blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness and a pain or lump in your stomach.

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