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Cancer survivor calls for more bowel talk
10:00am Wednesday 14th March 2012 in Health
AFTER ten years of battling bowel cancer, Bob Hackett was finally told this year he is in permanent remission.
Four operations and two sessions of chemotherapy later and Bob has got his life back.
Bowel cancer is England’s second most common cancer, with around 33,000 new cases per year in the UK.
Bob, 65, from Langdon Hills, Basildon, credits spotting the symptoms, and an early assessment, for saving his life.
He was discharged from hospital and given the all-clear in January this year.
Now, Bob wants people to break the taboo of talking about their bowel movements.
Bob said: “People need to stop feeling embarrassed about talking about poo. If your toilet motions change, you need to go to the doctor because if it is bowel cancer an early diagnosis could save your life.
“I was going more frequently and it was like rabbit droppings. My wife was reading an article in Reader’s Digest about things to save your life and one of them was keeping an eye on toilet habits.
“It was my one and only symptom and so if it had not be picked up by the doctor I would not be here.”
An examination in 2002 found Bob had advanced cancer between the rectum and colon and he had an operation and chemotherapy.
Bob was diagnosed with secondary bowel cancer in the liver in 2004 and had another operation and chemotherapy. Bob had two further operations, his last one in 2006.
He said: “I was having treatment over ten years – that is 124 months and 44 of those I was having medical treatment.
“It has been a struggle for the whole family. When the doctor told us I was in permanent remission, my wife was so relived, having been my carer for so many years, she said ‘may I kiss you doctor?’ – And she did!”
Bob decided he was going to tackle his illness head on.
Bobs said: “I never thought to myself ‘why me?’. We are all living longer and so we get cancer.
“When we went to the hospital, my wife and I would write down the questions we wanted to ask the night before so we would not forget anything.
“I asked if the disease would kill me. I wanted to know exactly where I stood and what I needed to do to get better.”
Living with cancer taught Bob to appreciate every minute of his life.
Bob said: “Life doesn’t stop when you have cancer and I still had wonderful times with family and friends while having treatment.
“When you are confronted with death it gives you a clear focus on the things in life that matter, the sunshine, the birds singing in the morning.”
Bob joined Beat Bowel Cancer in 2002 and he is passionate about raising awareness about the disease.
He wrote a book, entitled Stormy the Stoma, which tells of his experiences and spreads the message about how treatable bowel cancer can be if caught early enough.
Nowadays Bob still keeps a close eye on his health.
He said: “I keep a regular check of any changes in my bowel movements. I do not eat a lot of red meat, mostly white, I get my five a day and fibre and I don’t smoke. I don’t drink half what I used to. Now I try to be as healthy as I can be.”
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