Beating bowel cancer together

#NoButts campaign on ITV's Lorraine

Thursday 6 May 2021

We were delighted to work with ITV's Lorraine on the No Butts campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

Fronted by our newest patron, Deborah James, this important campaign helped to raise further awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer – the UK's second biggest cancer killer – during one of the nation's favourite breakfast shows.

At least twice a week, over a period of three weeks, Lorraine and Deborah highlighted the importance of smashing the poo taboo, knowing the symptoms to look out for, and urging people to contact their GP if things don't feel right. Over the course of the campaign, they interviewed some of our supporters and patrons affected by the disease, who talked about their personal experiences. You can read more about each interview below.

ScS, the sofa and carpet specialist, also supported the No Butts campaign. Their employees raised over £25,000 for Bowel Cancer UK by walking the equivalent of the entire circumference of the earth during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. They're also donating the famous pink sofa, which travelled across the country as part of the campaign, to us.

Thursday 6 May
Today's finale show was a round-up of activity over the last three weeks airing clips from special interviews with our patron Charlene White, John Stapleton and our supporters, Emma Campbell, Dr Anisha Patel and Alton Powell.

Dr Hilary highlighted that bowel cancer is not just an older person's disease, with 2,500 younger people in the UK diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.

Deborah and Lorraine were both 'blown away' by the positive responses from the campaign. Deborah highlighted a few messages that she's received on social media: "I didn't bother seeing my GP for five months, I had an emergency CT scan and a colonoscopy where they found a tumour. Don't leave it too late", and another commented "how brilliant Alton was. Men taking note as well." One lady did an impressive cross stitch of the No Butts logo.

Tuesday 4 May
Just a week after surgery, our patron Deborah James is at RHS Wisley Gardens for today's show and did a special shout out to her medical team at the Royal Marsden for giving her "hope and options", which she's very pleased to have.

Deborah featured in the campaign’s new video looking at different shapes of poo made from playdough, saying "it's time to get to know your poo, the next time you’re in the loo," encouraging people to know what is normal for them and to contact their GP if they notice changes.

At Wisley, Deborah interviewed our supporter Alton Powell about his bowel cancer experience. He was diagnosed at 30, after noticing a significant change in his bowel habits. After spending lots of time in the loo, he went to his GP and was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. It was his partner Jessica who persuaded Alton to go – after lots of running jokes, but also lots of concerns. He also told how having a stoma saved his life: "After my diagnosis, they found an 8cm tumour within my bowel and they advised I have the stoma to redirect the bowel into the bag… It saved my life as waste can block up your insides." He also advised people not to suffer in silence if they have symptoms.

The segment was rounded up with messages from viewers saying after seeing the No Butts campaign they had visited their doctor with symptoms. One said the campaign had given her 'the courage' to call the doctor to get symptoms checked out, with Lorraine adding: "If in doubt, go to your doctor!"

Thursday 29 April
On this morning's programme Lorraine spoke about Lynn Faulds Wood, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer thirty years ago. Lynn sadly died of a stroke in 2020. Lorraine was joined on the sofa by Lynn's husband John Stapleton, who spoke about how shocked they were by the diagnosis. Nobody really knew what bowel cancer was at that time.

A dedicated campaigner, Lynn pushed for GPs to come up with a list of bowel cancer symptoms. When a screenshot of this was shown on GMTV some years ago, 27,000 enquiries were received in one day. Lynn founded Beating Bowel Cancer in 1998, and our two charities merged in January 2018.

John stressed to viewers that whilst there was little awareness surrounding bowel cancer when Lynn was diagnosed, that bowel cancer is treatable and curable if caught early, and campaigns like No Butts will continue to help raise awareness.

Wednesday 28 April
On today's show, Dr Anisha Patel was on the sofa talking to Lorraine about her bowel cancer journey. The GP and mum of two was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in September 2018, aged 39. Her first symptom was tiredness, which she put down to a demanding job and being a busy mum of two, and so didn't think much of it. But as time went on and she began to experience IBS symptoms and intermittent bleeding Anisha knew something wasn't right. When she saw her GP in September 2018 she was referred down the two week urgent cancer pathway. She's now two and a half years in remission and received the all clear the day before coming on the show.

Anisha said that you can always explain away your symptoms but that it's crucial to make time to go and see your GP. She also said that it's not uncommon for younger people to be diagnosed with bowel cancer. Every year 2,500 younger people are diagnosed with the disease.

Both Anisha and Lorraine stressed that nobody should die of embarrassment. They encouraged viewers to go and see their GP sooner and take the bowel screening test as soon as it's offered. Lorraine also reminded the show's audience that the No Butts leaflet can be downloaded here.

Tuesday 27 April
Our patron Deborah James updated viewers on the No Butts campaign and met some of the businesses getting behind it. She thanked sofa and carpets company ScS for getting bums on seats and Victorian Plumbing for making sure messages about bowel cancer don't get flushed away. She also spoke to Chris Baker, co-founder of Serious Tissues, which is including the No Butts symptoms awareness flyer in thousands of boxes of loo roll as a reminder for people to check for any signs of the disease.

Deborah added that the No Butts had started a conversation about bowel cancer, with lots of viewers sharing powerful and honest messages about their own experiences of the disease with the show.

Lorraine also reminded the show's audience that the No Butts leaflet can be downloaded here.

Deborah had another bowel cancer operation yesterday, and we send her our very best wishes for her recovery.

Thursday 22 April
On today's show two of our patrons, Deborah James and Charlene White featured in the campaign's Lifting the Lid video talking about the symptoms of bowel cancer. Charlene said we need to wipe away the embarrassment and start talking about poo, saying: "Trust your gut. Know what's normal for you and if you're worried go and get it checked."

Charlene was also on the sofa talking to Lorraine, saying: "For whatever reason people get embarrassed talking about poo but everyone does it. There's nothing to be embarrassed about, we all do it." She then talked emotively about her mum's diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer. "She was 43 when she was diagnosed and died at 47. I remember sitting on the hospital bed doing my homework, taking my little brother to school. This was my normal. I didn't know what it was like to have a normal childhood and for that reason I don't want other families to go through that." She added that people need to spot the signs and go to their GP, saying: "We have to take responsibility for our own bodies, check your poo before you flush to make sure nothing is wrong. If we don't, we could end up losing our lives."

Charlene pointed out that she's only two years off being the same age as her mum when she was diagnosed: "This is forever on my mind, especially since becoming a parent myself. I can't imagine going through it (treatment) with three children. As a parent it's one of the most awful things you can go through."

Tuesday 20 April
This morning's programme started with Dr Hilary Jones talking to Lorraine in the studio about the frustrations of patients sometimes not being able to have a face-to-face appointment with a GP. He reassured viewers that they are still able to have an online or phone call with their doctor where they can talk about their symptoms, get advice and receive a prescription. For those with 'red flag' symptoms like those often seen in bowel cancer, people must clearly air their concerns that it could be cancer, be assertive and insist on a face-to-face appointment.

Supporters of the charity, as well as their family and friends, shared their experience of bowel cancer in a series of short, powerful videos. Sarah Simpson, who lost her daughter Charlotte in May 2020 shortly after her 18th birthday; Abi Morris; Matthew Wiltshire; Sophie Brown, Natalie Woodward, Leigh-Anne Jones, Rebecca Clarke and Craig Russell, who lost his daughter Kelly Smith, aged just 31.

Lorraine introduced our patron Deborah James, who was at Sunderland's FC Stadium of Light – which has a 42,000 seat capacity – to represent the 42,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. Deborah was with one of our supporters, Emma Campbell, who was diagnosed with the disease at 36 in February 2020. After a year of treatment, she is now cancer free. She said that "bowel cancer has no stereotypes". Her advice for anybody experiencing symptoms is to trust your gut and see your GP. She added: "You know your body better than anyone else."

Monday 19 April
On today's show Lorraine featured Deborah James and Dr Hilary Jones to launch the #NOBUTTS campaign. Deborah talked about her experience of bowel cancer and the impact of a stage 4 diagnosis, saying "All I want is a future and to see my children's future. Living with cancer is mentally a rollercoaster and physically challenging. We need people talk about our bowels and smash the poo taboo. Even our favourite actors poo. There's nothing to be embarrassed about." She added "There shouldn't be any excuses when it comes to our health."

Dr Hilary Jones spoke about the symptoms of bowel cancer and urged viewers to visit their GP if they're worried. The NHS is open for business. Viewers have already shared their experiences of bowel cancer with the Lorraine show.

Learn more about the No Butts campaign

Knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer could save your life

Read more Real Life Stories of people affected by bowel cancer

Find out more about Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

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