A dad who blamed his rapid weight loss on working too hard and not eating properly actually had cancer which was spreading around his body to his lung and liver.
Rob Gore, 40, dismissed the symptoms, which included passing blood when he went to the toilet, until his wife Kirsty persuaded him to visit the GP. The supply chain logistics manager, from Warrington, said: “By the time I received my diagnosis, I’d resigned myself to the fact it was something serious. I had bowel cancer and it had spread, with nodules in my liver and lung.”
With nearly 43,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, it is the fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, according to the charity Bowel Cancer UK. More than nine in ten new cases are diagnosed in people of 50 years of age, and it is more common in men than women, but it can affect anyone of any age.
Rob had six rounds of chemotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s outreach clinic in Halton Hospital’s CanTreat unit, followed by treatment to help stop the cancer from spreading further. He still visits the Clatterbridge team to collect cancer medication and to get regular scans and check-ups.
One scan, a year ago, detected potentially cancerous growths called nodules in his lung, requiring a further six rounds of chemotherapy. He later had a lung ablation at Royal Liverpool Hospital. This non-surgical procedure uses heat to kill cancer cells, allowing them to treat a nodule they suspected was returning.
Three years since his diagnosis in March 2019, Rob is back at work full-time, having recently visited London and Belfast with family to celebrate his 40th birthday. He said: “My wife and the kids have been brilliant. I have two stepchildren and a daughter and they’ve just climbed Moel Famau in north Wales to raise money for a charity that supports children whose family members have cancer. They were really keen to give something back and I’m so proud of them.
“We’re just making the most of everything we can – trying to get out there, do stuff and enjoy life. It’s been really nice to be back in work as well, seeing people, because I’m not one for sitting around.”
Rob shared his story for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April to encourage others not to ignore possible symptoms of cancer. He said: “I always tell friends, family, anyone – if you have any signs at all, please go and see someone. It feels huge when something in your body isn’t right, but there’s no need to be scared. Getting diagnosed with cancer isn’t all doom and gloom. There’re treatment available, so it’s always best to get symptoms checked out and either put your mind at rest or get the care you need.”
He added: “The care I’ve had from the NHS has been great – I can’t say enough about how amazing everyone has been. I see my nurse consultant, Jeanette, regularly. She’s fantastic and I have a lot of trust in the team. I’m just getting on with things and living my life.”
Colotectal nurse consultant at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust Jeanette Ribton said: “Rob did the right thing by going to see his GP when he noticed blood and that he had lost weight without trying. People sometimes dismiss early signs of bowel cancer, either from embarrassment or thinking it’s just a dodgy tummy.
“If you have persistent changes in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more, blood in your poo or abdominal pain or bloating when you eat, ask your GP for advice. It’s also important to take part in bowel cancer screening if you’re invited to do so.”