Over the last 24 hours I have experienced the two sides to bowel cancer, and both the good and bad sides reinforce the importance to me of raising awareness about this terrible illness.
Yesterday I met up with the ex West Ham Utd, QPR and England goalkeeper Phil Parkes. Phil has recently successfully beaten bowel cancer after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. The survival rates in many cases where there is early detection is 90%, therefore it is so important we are aware of the possible symptoms and go to the doctor if there is a change in bowel behaviour. I spent a fascinating hour and a half with Phil talking about his illness, and his career in professional football including a wonderful story of his reaction to being overlooked for an England cap by then manager Don Revie. He was keen to point out that bowel cancer does not distinguish and it can strike down any of us. We chatted about how sadly for Bobby Moore diagnosis came too late.
On the other side of the coin sadly today we learn that Lynda Bellingham has lost her brave and dignified battle with bowel cancer. Her story has touched us all, and reaffirms that it is still the 2nd biggest cancer killer in the UK in spite of it being treatable in so many cases. I am not aware of the specifics of Lynda's case, but I have read that the she had probably been living with the tumour for 18 months before it was detected. In the last few weeks of her life she stopped her treatment and courageously faced the end in the spotlight of the media, and doing everything possible to ensure that people in the future might not have to suffer a similiar fate. A remarkable lady finally at peace.
Both the Beating Bowel Cancer Fundraising Book published in 2012 and the follow up book coming out early in 2015 aim to not only raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity, but also to help raise awareness about the illness.