David McLenachan, Manchester
Early in the morning on Halloween in 2013 I saw I had lost a lot of blood when I went to the toilet. I believe I might have lost small amounts of blood before this, but not in any quantity to make me concerned. Obviously this blood loss wasn’t normal and I contacted my doctor as soon as the surgery opened and booked an appointment for a few days later.
At the appointment, I explained my symptoms. At this stage I realised it may be serious, but cancer was only one possibility in my mind. The GP did a brief examination of me and he had no hesitation in referring me to a specialist as an urgent case. He did mention cancer as a potential cause of the loss of blood, but it took a couple of visits to the colorectal clinic before I was given the absolute diagnosis of a tumour in my rectum.
I have no doubt my instant reaction to the first significant symptom, combined with my doctor’s rapid action, at least saved me the prospect of the cancer spreading and may have saved my life.
I now devote much time to helping others in similar challenging circumstances, by volunteering with national cancer charities and being involved in important NHS projects to improve procedures, care and techniques.