A great-grandfather from Castleford has joined hospital specialists to urge people to be aware of the warning signs of bowel cancer.
Malcolm Cartwright, 75, of Glass Houghton was diagnosed with the condition in 2007 and needed surgery before being given the all-clear.
Before he was diagnosed, Mr Cartwright had a very active lifestyle, running marathons across Europe, Russia and the USA.
He said: “I was fit and I looked after myself. I tried to eat the right food, I only drank occasionally and didn’t smoke. I thought cancer happened to other people.”
After noticing worrying symptoms, Mr Cartwright saw his GP and was referred to Pinderfields Hospital for treatment. He added: “I put the fact that I am still here down to the cancer being caught early, and that I did something about it.
“It can happen to anybody. However fit and able you think you are, it is very important you seek help straight away if you have any concerns at all.”
Mr Cartwright has now joined forces with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pontefract Hospital, as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, to make people aware of the symptoms and seek treatment.
The most common symptoms of bowel cancer include a change in bowel habits, blood in the bowel movement or bleeding, abdominal pain or a lump in the abdomen and unexplained weight loss or tiredness.
Julie Crossley, Macmillan colorectal clinical nurse specialist at Mid Yorkshire, said: “Even in this day and age, people are very shy about talking about bowels. But if you talk to your GP, it might just save your life.”
Around 80 per cent of bowel cancer cases develop in people aged 60 and over, but Julie added: “Don’t be put off seeking help if you have any symptoms and you are any younger. We do occasionally have much younger patients.”
A bowel cancer screening programme is offered to people aged 60 to 69 and the trust also has its own support group, Positive Friends, for people affected by bowel cancer and their friends and family.
Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of the month at the Rosewood Centre at Dewsbury Hospital at 7.30pm. To find out more contact Janet Marsden on 01274 873835.