A man who needed surgery for bowel cancer says without screening he might not be here to enjoy his grandchildren.
Charles Cushing, of Feversham Close, Shoreham, has chosen Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to share his story and encourage others to seek the free check when they turn 60.
Charles, 65, said: “Five years ago I had just turned 60, I felt fine, life was hunky dory and I received a letter inviting me to take part in screening.
“I filled it in and then unfortunately cancer was found, I was quickly operated on and the tumour was removed at Worthing Hospital.
“But very fortunately my cancer was caught at an early stage before it had spread.
“It has left me needing a colostomy and stoma bag which is an inconvenience at times but it’s much better than the alternative.
“I have two beautiful grandchildren and not taking part in the screening programme could have meant not being here to watch them grow up.”
In England, anyone over 60 can take part in the screening programme, and they can do it every two years using a simple home testing kit.
“I was amazed when I spoke to friends who were turning 60 and many of them just threw the invite card in the bin,” Charles said.
“It was only after I told them about my cancer that they then took part.
“Men are terrible at taking advantage of this sort of thing, I think there’s an element of embarrassment, but survival rates are so much better if it’s caught early.”
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer with 16,000 annual deaths – but one year survival rates for screening diagnoses are 97 per cent.
Charles, who has named his stoma ‘Moby’ to personalise it, gives talks to encourage people to take up the free screening for Albion in the Community and is a member of Colonaid Worthing bowel cancer support group.
Like many he believes the screening age should be lowered to 50 as in Scotland.