WHEN doctors told Suzanne Howe the crushing news she had incurable cancer, her world was turned upside-down.

The 49-year-old, United in Kind coach for Tendring, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer which had spread to her liver on August 17.

Mrs Howe, who lives in Ramsey, said the diagnosis, which came in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, was a huge shock.

She said she felt fine until about eight weeks before her diagnosis, as she was suffering with pains in her right side.

The mum-of-two contacted her GP and had to go to Colchester Hospital’s A&E unit a couple of times as she was in so much pain.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Family - Suzanne Hower with husband Nick and children Emily and Samuel 

Tests were ran on August 16 and doctors found tumours on her bowel, and broke the news of her cancer the following day.

“It’s treatable, but not curable,” Mrs Howe explained.

“So there was a huge amount of information to take on.

“I didn’t want to know timescales of my life expectancy, and doctors could not talk about it too much as they did not know how I would respond to treatment.”

Despite the circumstances, Mrs Howe has been trying her best to remain positive for her family.

She said: “The past few months have been really difficult, but my husband and children have been brilliant.”

Mrs Howe and her husband Nick, 44, agreed to be totally honest with their children Emily, 15, and Samuel, 18, about the cancer.

She said: “They have been amazing and I am so proud of them.

“They are at key times in their education at the moment, so it has come at a tough time for them.”

Due to her vulnerability, Mrs Howe has only been able to see her immediate family in person.

“It’s been hard not to see my mum or friends in person as you just want to give them a hug,” she said.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Positive - Suzanne has praised the NHS for supporting her 

She also said the pandemic has made her extremely vigilant about what comes into the house.

Deliveries have to be quarantined, as does post and shopping.

Her children have to change and shower when they return from school and college to reduce any risk to Mrs Howe.

She added: “But Macmillan has been fantastic and still offering face to face counselling which has been a release for me.”

Dealing with chemotherapy during the pandemic has been an eye-opening experience for Mrs Howe who said she cannot fault the staff at Colchester Hospital.

She said: “The NHS has been brilliant, even though we are in a pandemic.

“None of my appointments or treatment have been delayed and I cannot fault the medical support I have received.

“I want others to know that they should not hesitate to contact their GP if they are ill as the pandemic continues.”

Mrs Howe, who used to be a Ramsey parish councillor, is undergoing three types of chemotherapy which she has every other week.

As a way of discussing her feelings about treatment she regularly writes blog posts for friends to read.

She said: “I definitely have more positive days than negative days.

“There’s no point looking at the negative side because a positive attitude can make a big difference and give my children hope.

“There have been tears and frustration but I’ve had many lovely messages which help keep me positive.”

Mrs Howe is continuing to work as a coach for United in Kind, which is a movement to tackle loneliness in the county, when she is able to.

“It keeps me distracted and I can work from the comfort of my home,” she added.

She said she wants to remind others in a similar situation to reach out to loved ones or charities for support to get them through hard days.

To view Mrs Howe’s blog visit facebook.com/suziegoesloobyloo.