AN ALVA woman who lost her husband to bowel cancer received a shattering diagnosis of her own a year later – that she too had the disease.

Eileen Grinly had nursed her beloved David, who passed away in April 2015, at home after he had received chemotherapy and radiotherapy and was well aware of the vagaries of the cancer.

So when problems were spotted during a colonoscopy after she developed anaemia, her first thought was: "Please, please, please, I know how this could go. Please don’t go the same way. It was just a shock actually."

She underwent an operation and is now full of praise for the oncology team and Macmillan nurses at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

And she credits a post-op programme – which speeds up recovery and cuts down on time spent in hospital – with helping her to get back on her feet.

Eileen said: "The whole team knew what the background was, and understood how me and my family would be feeling.

"The whole thrust of ERAS (Early Recovery After Surgery) is that the patient becomes fully involved and works in partnership with the surgical team, so they knew I would be a prime candidate for the sake of my family."

One of the keys to success is exercise and for three weeks before her operation, Eileen spent 30 minutes a day either walking, swimming, or running up and down stairs with her sister.

She continued: "I made it a mission and reckon I was very lucky to have my sister, children and friends to support me. You really have to get yourself match-fit."

Eileen hung on to the fact that her surgeon had spoken of a ‘curative’ operation and went down to theatre on a Monday.

Early next morning she was visited by a physiotherapist and the following day got up, showered, washed her hair and put her make up on, then walked to the hospital restaurant – rather than the luxury hotel which had been booked previously – to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.

She was doing so well that a nurse even asked who was the patient.

And after being told protein was good for recovery the birthday party all decided to tuck into a special meal of omelettes.

Just three days after her operation, Eileen was discharged from hospital and added that one of things she appreciated the most was being provided with an emergency surgical number, part of the programme, for clinical advice.

Reflecting on her experience, she said: "This initiative worked for me because I participated. It also gave me a sense of job satisfaction, a job well done."

Eileen’s last CT scan was clear and she says she owes much of her post-recovery success to improving her fitness levels in the weeks before surgery.

She was back driving again within the month and, although feeling a little tired, said people had to constantly remind her that she had undergone major surgery.