WHEN John Marenghi lost nearly two stone in six months, he put the weightloss down to his new diet.
But the 51-year-old’s wife Liz was sceptical about the dramatic drop and suggested he see a doctor.
Tests went on to show John, of Rowlands Castle, had bowel cancer and would need major surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy.
But he battled back and a year after finishing his chemotherapy course he ran the London Marathon in 2016 and raised £5,000 for Queen Alexandra Hospital’s Rocky Appeal, which is raising money to by a da Vinci robot for keyhole surgery. This will be used to help others with bowel cancer.
And with April marking Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the dad-of-four is warning people to look out for the symptoms of bowel cancer.
One of the most common symptoms is blood after going to the toilet.
John did notice a small amount of blood and told himself he would ‘act on it’ if it occurred again.
But, as there was no reoccurrence, John put it to the back of his mind.
It was only when Liz pointed out his diet could not be the reason he had lost so much weight that he again noticed very small traces of blood in his stools.
He said: ‘I went to my GP but, to be honest, he didn’t seem too concerned at first.
‘It was only when I returned again as the condition worsened that he sent me for tests which showed I had a stage three tumour that needed immediate treatment.
‘National screening for bowel cancer doesn’t start until you reach 60 but it can happen to anyone.
‘To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was only 51, I was reasonably fit and I had just been told I had a cancer normally found in people over 60.’
John, a sales manager, had his initial treatment at Spire Portsmouth Hospital in Havant, and underwent an 11-hour operation to remove the tumour at QA, carried out colorectal surgeon Jim Khan.
This was followed by six gruelling months of chemotherapy.
John added: ‘It was tough, at times very tough, but you have to focus on the end result.
‘There will be times when you feel fine and others when you feel absolutely terrible but it is important to keep telling yourself you will get through it.
‘I can’t thank Mr Khan enough - it is no exaggeration to say he saved my life and I will be eternally grateful to him and the whole medical team for the care they gave me.’
April is dedicated to raising awareness of bowel cancer and encouraging people to recognise any possible symptoms.
It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but - if diagnosed at the earliest stage - can have an almost
100 per cent survival rate.
Mr Khan said: ‘A change in your bowel habit that lasts for three weeks or more and blood in your poo are warning signs that need acting upon as soon as possible.
‘Other signs include unexplained weight loss, feeling tired without reason, stomach pains or a lump in the stomach.
‘Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms - but if you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, go to see your GP.’