Steve, aged 60
“This year I turned 60. I am a happy, healthy, semi-retired rugby fanatic, slightly overweight, living a near perfect life. I was aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer but as far as I was concerned I did not think I had a problem. I had experienced slight traces of blood after going to the toilet but I did suffer from haemorrhoids, which I had discussed with my GP and was happy with his diagnosis.
Soon after my birthday, the NHS bowel screening test dropped through my letter box. I read the information regarding the programme and set the card aside, not with the intention of ignoring it but waiting for that right moment when I could provide three samples and send it off. A couple of weeks later and with a bit of a nudge from my wife I completed the samples and popped the card in the post.
Within days of sending off my samples I received a letter informing me that my test was abnormal and that I needed a colonoscopy. It was during this investigation that the cancer was detected and I experienced that awful feeling of dread. I was, however, determined that whatever the cancer would throw at me I would remain positive and respond to the advice given to me.
My bowel cancer was in the early stages but I do not consider that I was lucky: the screening programme gave me the best chance of recovery. Bowel cancer can be beaten if detected early, and it disappoints me to know that only just over 50% of people return their screening kit. In my mind that means nearly half are playing ‘Russian roulette’ with cancer.”