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Married at First Sight's Mel Schilling inundated with support amid bowel cancer journey

Married at First Sight's Mel Schilling inundated with support amid bowel cancer journey


Mel Schilling on 'This Morning' TV show© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
Updated: January 17, 2024
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Married at First Sight expert Mel Schilling has been inundated with support from fans after appearing on This Morning this week to discuss her journey with bowel cancer. The TV star and relationships coach sat on the ITV sofa opposite Dermot O'Leary and Josie Gibson to speak about her symptoms, her diagnosis and her recent operation.

Before being diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2023 and undergoing immediate surgery, Mel revealed she was in pain and suffering typical symptoms, but was putting off doing anything about it.

 "I ignored the signs for such a long time," she began, adding: "My energy levels had dropped and I was having such incredible gut pain, literally doubled over in pain and shouting."

Dermot O'Leary, Josie Gibson, Mel Schilling, Dr Nighat Arif on 'This Morning' TV show© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Dermot O'Leary, Josie Gibson, Mel Schilling, Dr Nighat Arif on 'This Morning' TV show

The MAFS star continued: "And I stopped going to the toilet completely, but I was doing so much international travel. I wasn't sleeping and my whole digestive system stopped but I put it down to the travel."

Mel then opened up about how she came to be diagnosed. "I did see a GP in Australia and they said it's constipation, you'll be fine. I then flew back to the UK and it became more serious, I couldn't even hold down water. 

So I went to a gastroenterologist and he could pinpoint the signs, and for him, it was the unexplained weight loss, which was alarming.

Mel Schilling from MAFS UK© Photographer
Mel Schilling from MAFS UK

"He got me in for a CT scan within 24 hours and they found Terry [the tumour], right there in my colon blocking everything. They looked at the results, brought Gareth, my husband, and I in and they said, 'You have cancer'."

Despite the extremely worrying diagnosis, Mel insists she was lucky: "That's why I say this a good news story. It's absolutely been tough, but it was a reasonably early intervention. 

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.

According to the NHS, the below are the key symptoms to look out for.

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Persistent blood in the stools – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
  • A persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
  • Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. See your GP if you have one or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer and they have persisted for more than three weeks.

"Though it was stage three, so still very serious, if I had waited another month or so longer it could have been a very different story."

Mel underwent surgery in December
View post on Instagram
 

After appearing on the ITV programme, Mel took to her Instagram, stating: "Well … that was a very different @thismorning segment today. Rather than offering advice to others, I had the opportunity to talk about my own experience - my bowel cancer journey."

She then listed the key messages from the chat including listening to your body, asking for help if something feels wrong, and if your bowel habits have changed to ask for GP for a stool test, also known as a FIT test.

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Fans were quick to heap messages of praise and support on the television star: "This is so epic! Well done for sharing! You could well have saved so many lives among those watching by raising awareness! Thank you!"

 Another said: "Amazing, informative and inspirational as always, Mel. So lovely to see you looking so well." A third added: "Thankyou for raising awareness for Colon Cancer… You Are An Inspiration To All."

Mel Schilling with her husband Gareth and their daughter, Madison© Instagram
Mel Schilling with her husband Gareth and their daughter, Madison

After undergoing surgery in December, Mel has since shared an update on how she's doing now. Earlier this week, she wrote on Instagram: "Cancer Update: My PET scan was all clear. No spread."

She added: "Terry Tumour was definitely cancer. Doc removed 38 lymph nodes and six of them were malignant. The cancer had spread to some of the fat cells around my colon, all removed now. Next steps: chemo for three months. It will be a combination of infusions in the hospital & tablets at home. Overall, good news."

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