Maria’s Story

I was shocked to learn I had stage III bowel cancer back in August 2017, as I have always been a healthy eater and a lover of exercise. I rarely drink alcohol and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. On the other hand, I have, however, been through some pretty stressful times in my life.

I believe that these times of major stress played a major part in me getting ill.

Following my diagnosis, I soon learned that my colon cancer symptoms started like so many other people’s, with blood in the stool. This occurred a few months before my diagnosis and a couple of months after that, I developed a pain in my left side, which can only be described as a period pain. This pain only lasted for short spells of time. I later realised this must have been when whatever I had eaten passed the tumour site. Bowel cancer used to be referred to as a disease for older people and lovers of meat, but I have come across many young people, mainly women, who are far from this stereotype.

I needed surgery and then a plan!

Straight after my surgery, tests were done and I found out that the cancer had made it to the lymph nodes and that chemotherapy was recommended. I wasn’t sure whether to go ahead with the treatment, as let’s be honest, it is some really strong, toxic stuff, but as it severely upped my chances of surviving five years, I decided on a treatment plan which combined conventional and alternative treatment. My husband and I read a lot of books and did a lot of research to prepare, and in the end, going through chemotherapy turned out okay – although I decided to stop after seven out of eight cycles, as I didn’t want any of the side effects to become permanent.

A few things I found incredibly helpful during my treatment journey were the treatment support clinics at Penny Brohn and the help available from a UK charity called Yes to Life. They work closely with a remarkable lady called Patricia Peat; a consultation with her helped me prepare for chemotherapy and to stay strong throughout. She is an ex-oncology nurse, so she knows a lot about the conventional side of things, as well as the complementary treatments. I also found the silver gloves (look them up) a godsend, as the chemotherapy for bowel cancer affects your nerves and gives you spasms and causes sensitivity to cold.

Don’t look at the statistics

My advice to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or any other life threatening disease: try not to read too much into statistics as everyone’s situation, treatment experience and journey is completely different. I would also recommend taking a proactive role throughout your treatment and healing journey. I found that this made me feel somewhat in control of the situation. Also, remember that there is plenty of time to think about your decisions. From what the doctors thought, my tumour had been there for about five years before we found it due to its symptoms. Don’t let anyone push you into doing something you don’t want to do. It is your decision and your body. Above all, my main piece of advice is to find your own ‘why’. The reason why you will get through this and why you want to live. My why was my kids. They kept me going every single day.

I am now six years post my cancer diagnosis and I can now officially call myself a cancer survivor. I am back in the gym and I’m trying to keep on top of my clean eating and all the supplements I take, which I believe has helped me get to where I am today. I am determined to live my life to the maximum and I won’t let what I’ve been through define me.

Maria is now an Holistic Health Mentor and Cancer Support Coach you can find out more on her website.


Maria Honeker

Never miss a thing when you join our mailing list!

Despite having the support of family, friends, and medical professionals, it’s normal to feel isolated and alone. 

However, you are not alone. You are now a part of a community who have gone through similar experiences and have come out stronger on the other side. What-Next is run by individuals who have either had cancer or supported someone with cancer.

We want you to know that you can overcome this challenge and live your best life along the way.

Want To Share Your Story?

If you're interested in being featured on our website, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at or by using our form.