Twenty years ago life could
not have been better. John and I had a
delightful two year old son. Then out of the blue, I was diagnosed with
advanced bowel cancer. I had never even heard of the disease.
My symptom was very subtle,
just a little rectal bleeding which came and went. I mentioned it to my then GP
when going for a cervical smear test. To
his credit, he did give me a PR (Per Rectum digital examination with a gloved
finger) but concluded it was "nothing to worry about at your age, probably
piles". After five months, still
not worried, I decided to see another GP at the practice and asked for a
referral to a specialist. Because no one was anxious about my subtle symptom, I
wasn't fast tracked and it was almost a year before I discovered the shocking
truth - I had Stage C bowel cancer.
Twenty years ago, most
people who developed bowel cancer died and, on paper, I had a 34% chance of
survival. Not much had changed in the previous 40 years.
When I finally got the all
clear, I made a TV investigation into bowel cancer – “Bobby Moore & Me” –
which got an amazing 6.5 million viewers and 28,000 letters poured in. That’s when I decided to give up most TV work
to concentrate on saving lives from bowel cancer and other preventable or
I spend most of my time unpaid working on cancer. I sit on key committees
– President of the Multi Disciplinary Team Task Force, Patron of the Primary
Care Gastrointestinal Society etc, our charity funds research and many research
papers bear my name. I’ve opened many screening centres, new hospital
endoscopy and bowel cancer units.