Val Harvey is backing Government Be Clear on Cancer campaign raising awareness of bowel cancer

Val Harvey
Val Harvey

A WOMAN who suffered from bowel cancer is backing a Government campaign.

The Government has launched the Be Clear on Cancer campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer. It says spotting the signs early is key to saving people’s lives.

Five years ago, Val Harvey, of Garratt Road, Stamford, had noticed that her need to get to the toilet was becoming increasingly urgent but dismissed it as a problem associated with ageing.

So it wasn’t until she noticed blood on the toilet paper that she booked an appointment with her doctor, who on examination, found “something there”.

Soon after she was sent for scans at the hospital, where she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Mrs Harvey, 74, a retired mental health social worker, said: “When I noticed the blood, I knew something wasn’t right and wanted to get it looked at straight away.

“I was aware of bowel cancer and some of the symptoms but you just push that to the back of your mind. It wasn’t until I got my diagnosis that it really sunk in.

“In hindsight, I should have gone to my GP when my bowel habits changed, when the polyp that was found could have been removed before it became cancerous.”

The campaign encourages people who have had blood in their stools or loose stools for more than three weeks to see their doctor.

Mrs Harvey said: “I was lucky as I went to my doctor straight away and got an early diagnosis, which meant that my treatment was successful and the cancer was beaten.

“People may feel embarrassed talking about their symptoms, but remember your doctor has seen it all before.

“Don’t die of embarrassment.”

The Department of Health said bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer and affects 33,000 people every year. It is responsible for about 13,000 deaths.

More than 90 per cent of people diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage survive for at least five years compared with only six per cent of those diagnosed at a late stage.