March man lifts the lid on bowel cancer taboo

Cancer survivor David Bird

Cancer survivor David Bird - Credit: Archant

David Bird, a bowel cancer survivor from March is hoping to promote better awareness of the disease by backing national Lift the Lid Day on April 22.

Lift the Lid Day takes place during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and aims to get more people talking about the disease.

Mr Bird said “Most people are comfortable talking about issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer, but are far less so talking about bowel cancer. Mention bums and poo and you can see people cringe. But bowel cancer is actually the UK’s second biggest cancer killer so it’s essential that we talk about the disease and its symptoms so more people know what to look out for and are not embarrassed to get checked out if necessary.

“Ignoring symptoms because you don’t realise what they might be or because they are a bit embarrassing can delay your diagnosis and this could be life-threatening.”

The statistics back this up. If diagnosed early, nine out of 10 bowel cancer patients will survive for more than five years, but if diagnosed at a late stage, only one in 10 will survive this long.

Mr Bird visited his GP in March 2013 after noticing a change in his bowel habits and suffering from constipation and wind.

Diagnosis was confirmed after a colonoscopy and surgery took place in April the same year at City Hospital Peterborough.

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Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “One in four of us are affected by bowel cancer in some way, either directly or through family members and friends. Yet it’s rarely talked about because people are often too embarrassed to discuss the disease and its symptoms.

“As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April, we hope people in the local area will join David in supporting Lift the Lid Day and helping to raise greater awareness so people can get diagnosed earlier.”

People can support the campaign simply by talking about bowel cancer – whether it is a chat over coffee about their experience of the disease; inspiring someone to go online and learn about the symptoms; or encouraging someone who is worried about the disease to contact their doctor or the Beating Bowel Cancer helpline.

Mr Bird added: “Someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer every 15 minutes and it claims a life every half an hour. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Early diagnosis saves lives so together we must raise the profile of the disease and its symptoms if we are to improve survival rates.”

For more information and to get involved with Lift the Lid, please visit: