Sunday, 1 April 2012

Don't be an April Fool!

Ok so it's the 1st of April, April Fools Day, the day for practical jokes. It's also the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness month here in the UK. Can you remember when you first became aware of bowel cancer? I expect it was because either you, a close relative, friend or collegue at work had it. Or you had embarassing symptoms that you didn't want to go to the Dr's about and thought you could sort out yourself, so you googled your symptoms. Did your blood run cold when your symptoms came up with 'Bowel Cancer' as a possibility? Mine did...... so I kept googling till something else 'fitted the bill' in a more acceptable way. I'd never heard of bowel cancer till then and for F**** SAKE it is the 2ND BIGGEST KILLER FROM CANCER IN ENGLAND! So why are we not aware? Because we are british, because it's embarassing, because we were brought up only to whisper as an infant "I want a poo mummy" and if we said 'that' phrase loud enough for anyone outside the immediate family to hear, we probably got our legs smacked! Yes, I'm talking about my generation, I was born in the 50's. But what I learnt, I passed on to my children and so it goes. Comediens will talk/joke about anything won't they? Won't they....? When was the last time they joked about bums, poo, rectum, anus, colon, constipation, diahrrea, colostomy bags, ileostomy bags, stomas????? Matt Lucas has a wheel chair, we have no problem with that, tits, boobs, knockers, bangers, we've heard every name in the book for them. Penis, balls, testicles, dick, meat and two veg, need I go on? So if we hear them joked about on TV in cartoons, in books, we gradually become more comfortable with the 'words' and will repeat them to our friends, draw cartoons of them on our school books, graffitti them on the subway, on bridges and factory walls. When was the last time you saw a word used in conjuction with symptoms of bowel cancer on a cartoon or graffitied on a wall? So somehow, we HAVE to make it acceptable to say these words, so that we become more comfortable with them and can go to our GP and say "I have blood coming out of my rectum, I'm worried about it, please will you examine me?" a couple of weeks after it happens, instead of a few months, a year or longer when you go in to the GP and tell him about your joint pain and then as you're about to leave say in a mutter "Oh sometimes I have a little bit of blood in my poo/on the tissue...... I'm sure it's only piles" and rush out relieved when he hands you a prescription for pile cream without examining you!

So, yes it's April and Bowel cancer Awareness month and we must all play our part in educating the rest of the population who are in blissful ignorance of the symptoms, or worse, suffering in agony, stressed, all because they are too embarassed to go to their GP and talk about their symptoms in the same way as they would with a sore throat.

Beating Bowel Cancer a charity I support that raises awareness of symptoms, educates, advises and supports patients, has rolled out a new campaign called 'Bowel Movement' ....yes it's a play on words that may shock.... good, hope it does, might make people sit up and take notice! 'Bowel Movement' is endorsed by the England rugby player and patron of Beating Bowel Cancer Matt Dawson and wants people to pledge their support online to helping to spread awareness however they can, the link is here

Something easy to do is get a symptom poster either from me or Beating Bowel Cancer and put it up at work on the back of the loo door, so people can read in privacy. If you want one from me email me at with your address and how many you need.

So please don't be an April Fool, don't ignore your symptoms if you have any. Spread the word, so that others are also aware, talk about bums, poo etc without feeling the need to use signs or whispers. I was an April Fool and it really is not very funny


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