A 79-year-old Kirkmuirhill man has been chosen as the figurehead of a new drive to combat Lanarkshire’s bowel cancer scourge.
With local rates of the dread disease among the highest in the country, NHS Lanarkshire is keen to promote screening during April’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
It has chosen grandad-of-four David Waters to be the public face of the county’s campaign due to the fact that his screening for the disease revealed that he had no fewer than three potentially fatal conditions in time to successfully treat all of them.
The results from his bowel cancer self-testing kit not only showed that he did, indeed, have cancer but also revealed two aneurysms. At the launch of the month of campaigning, he said: “I did my bowel cancer screening test in 2010 and was surprised when it showed a possible abnormality as I’d had no symptoms like pain or bleeding, but the test proved to be right and they found a tumour in my rectum.
“The consultant and other staff at Wishaw General Hospital were very reassuring and told me they were confident they could successfully treat my cancer.
“I had radiotherapy and chemotherapy to shrink the tumour and then underwent a successful operation at Wishaw General to remove it.
“Doing the test helped catch the cancer early. That was absolutely vital to ensure I beat it.
“I know that from experience because I had a friend who was sent the test kit at the same time as me.
“He put off doing his, and by the time he developed bowel cancer symptoms a couple of years later, it was too late for the medics to save him.”
He added that the test also uncovered an aneurysm in his aorta, the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart, and another aneurysm in the femoral artery in his right thigh.
Operations at Hairmyres Hospital at East Kilbride dealt with those potentially-fatal conditions.
NHS Lanarkshire public health consultant Jennifer Darnborough said: “Bowel cancer is Scotland’s third most common cancer, and almost 500 cases are picked up every year in Lanarkshire.
“As David’s story shows, if it’s found early, by screening, even before any symptoms are there, nine out of 10 people will beat it.”
For more information, see www.getcheckedearly.org or www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk.