I rarely talk about bowel cancer in my public life - even if I'm much involved outside public view. Don't want the word 'Cancer' to flash up whenever I speak. If its one thing I can't cope with its sympathy! Anyway its over 4 years since my body was redesigned on the operating table. I consider myself 100% recovered.
But my work on 'awareness raising' left me with no choice but to contribute to the 'Cancer Services' debate in the Assembly this week. If I hadn't, bowel cancer wouldn't have got a mention.
Around 2000 people in Wales go down with bowel cancer every year - and around 600 die. Its a major killer. And the thing about the disease is that it is curable - if caught early enough. I was bloody lucky. The tumour was so low down that it made its presence known to me at an early stage - even though I went through the usual few months of denial. The upshot of this was that I underwent some radical surgery and now have a permanent colostomy - but the diseased bit was chopped away and carted off to the incinerator before it had spread to the liver, etc.. So I'm alive and no chemo - and back to captaining the Assembly rugby team which is taking on the Houses of Commons and Lords in Cardiff on Saturday. The press release which has gone out from Bowel Cancer UK rather indelicatly refers to Saturday's 'Scrums for Bums'. I just hope no-one gets the wrong idea about the game!
So you can see why I had to raise the issue of screening this week. It is incredible to me that everyone over 50, especially where there is a family history isn't screened in some way. Screening would save lives and save money in the long run. I've always found the reason for not screening to be illogical as well as cruel. Apparently, its expected that so many tumours would be found that there is not enough capacity to deal with them all. Another way of putting this is that tumours are being left until the patients discover them for themselves - when it will spread to other organs and be too late for a full recovery. This doesn't make any sense at all. I am pleased to report that the Health Minister's response was encouraging. Brian Gibbons is a doctor himself - so he knows it makes sense.
The 'Scrums for Bums' game is kicking off at 12.00 at the Glamorgan Wanderers ground. £3.oo entry fee.