EVEN if it seems like something small, go to your GP and get yourself checked out.
That is the message from Owen Thomas, who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer earlier this year.
If I put them all together, maybe I would have been diagnosed sooner.Owen Thomas
The 34-year-old, who has a history of the condition in his family, did not think the couple of symptoms he had could mean something serious.
Now he wants people to see their doctor if they have any doubts over an illness.
Owen, from Horndean, said: ‘It was only when I started getting really tired I thought there was something wrong. But even then I wasn’t sure what it was.
‘I look back now and look at the symptoms I did have and they did indicate there was a problem.
‘If I put them all together, maybe I would have been diagnosed sooner.
‘I want people to go and get themselves checked out if they have symptoms and are unsure.’
Dad-of-one Owen was running marathons and playing rugby when he started feeling sick at the end of last year but put it down to fatigue or stress.
It was only when he struggled to get out of bed in January and had agonising stomach pains he decided to see his doctor.
A series of tests and scans revealed Owen had bowel cancer. In two operations, a tumour and 44 cancerous lymph nodes were removed.
His wife Ali said: ‘It was touch and go for a while, but throughout the whole fiasco of hospital visits and tests, we were looking at a curative prognosis – this was a man of 33.
‘We kept telling ourselves it was unlikely to be that serious.
‘But in February, the oncologist told us the disease was at stage four and thus incurable.
‘When they told us it was like ripping the carpet from beneath us.
‘But we realised that life is too short to be unhappy and we set about making sure the time we all have together is as happy and memorable as we can make it.’
Ali, a community psychiatric nurse, added the consultant explained the disease showed a mutation called BRAF and that options for chemotherapy were limited and would be palliative.
She said: ‘It was such a shock. It was the single worst day of our lives.’
Owen and Ali said their inspiration for getting through the diagnosis was their three-year-old son Rudy.
‘Rudy forces us to keep going,’ Ali said.
‘He is always getting up to crazy things and makes us laugh.
‘He knows his daddy is poorly and has to have medicine to make him less poorly.’
To raise awareness and money for bowel cancer, Ali will be taking on the Great South Run in Southsea this October.
She will be taking on the 10-mile race to raise money for Bowel and Cancer Research.
The 33-year-old added: ‘Owen’s chemotherapy should finish on October 13, so training gives me some head space and another goal to aim for, although we’re aware that it doesn’t stop when the chemotherapy ends.’
Owen said he was proud of Ali for taking part in the race which they both completed together in 2010.
‘The Great South Run is just the start of the fundraising we are hoping to do,’ he said.
To donate to Ali’s page go http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AliThomas