A grandfather of five whose life was saved by carrying out a simple cancer test has urged others to do the same.
Peter Jones, 75, from Shoreham was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014 – an early diagnosis which meant the tumour was successfully removed.
His got his diagnosis from carrying out a test sent in the post which looked for blood in his faeces.
Having lost his wife to cancer, Peter’s message to men and women his age was: “Get the test done. Get it done, the sooner the better. The earlier you do the test, the better chance you have of survival.”
The test is part of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. If you are registered with a GP and aged 60 to 74, you will receive a test in the post every two years – but figures show that only 60 per cent of people do them.
In Peter’s case, he phoned his doctor for a kit in 2013, having recognised symptoms from a leaflet which came with a test previously.
A week later he received a letter and a second kit, saying there was an abnormality and would have to complete another test. A colonoscopy at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton revealed the retired navy officer had stage one cancer – a painful reminder of his wife Christine’s battle with lung cancer which claimed her life aged 60 in 2011.
Peter said: “The first thing I thought of was my wife. She suffered through the chemo and radiotherapy and I thought I don’t want to go through that. The big ‘C word’ is the worst I can think of.”
But Peter’s cancer story had a happier ending. An operation on February 24, 2014 at the Brighton hospital successfully removed the tumour, and Peter has been in remission ever since.
He now fundraises for the national charity Bowel Cancer UK, having raised £600 so far in events such as growing a beard in December for Decembeard.
He said his grandchildren have a laugh at his beard – but it is a small thank you to all the NHS staff who helped save his life.
Peter has spoken to his friends about the test, and wants to dispel the myth that it is ‘nasty’ because it involves faeces. He said: “It is simple, it isn’t nasty or invasive, you do it in the privacy of your own loo and it is potentially life-saving.
“People don’t talk about poo – you don’t walk along the road saying my poo was good today – but it should not stop you doing the test.”
Bowel cancer is the nation’s second biggest cancer killer, with 44 people dying every day from the disease. Visit bowelcanceruk.org.uk.
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