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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 23:21 GMT 00:21 UK
Cancer patient inspires pub campaign
By Jane Elliott
BBC News Health Reporter

Dave with Honor Blackman and Elizabeth Estensen (Emmerdale  actress whose character had bowel cancer)
Dave at the launch of the pub campaign with celebrity supporters
Eye-catching posters in pub toilets and specially-designed beer mats are warning drinkers to check their bowel habits - a legacy of cancer campaigner Dave Miners.

Dave, who died just a few weeks ago, helped launched the campaign to draw attention to the signs and symptoms of the bowel cancer which claimed his life.

As someone who had worked in the drinks industry for many years, he told friends and family he wanted to help make drinkers aware of the disease, and was instrumental through his role in the British Institute of Innkeeping in getting the information distributed.

Carole Stones, a colorectal nurse at Colon Cancer Concern, said: "Alcohol is thought to be a factor in bowel cancer, because if people drink excessively it causes polyps to turn malignant and people who drink excessively often have unhealthy diets."

Symptoms

She said many people ignored the symptoms of bowel cancer because they were too embarrassed to discuss them.

"People do not want to talk about things below the waist.

Dave Miners
He opened people's eyes
Ian Beaumont, Colon Cancer Concern

"How you can get the message across? People get toilet trained around two and they don't want to talk about it after that.

"But if people are over the age of 50 and have a sudden onset of change of bowel habit, and become more loose and frequent, - especially if they have bleeding, they should go to their doctor - as should people who have bleeding from their bottoms, anaemia or lumps.

"Even if they are below 50 they should go to their doctor. It may not be bowel cancer, but something could be done about it."

Dave went to the doctor within weeks of noticing changes in his bowel movements, but it was too late. Doctors diagnosed a large tumour which had spread.

He told the BBC before his death: "The speed with which I went really from being utterly healthy and normal to being faced with probably less than two years to live was extraordinary.

"The emotional impact, I can barely explain to you. I was absolutely shattered."

He said he was concerned that people did not talk about the disease.

"I am absolutely convinced that we don't talk about bowel cancer because of the English reticence, the British stiff upper lip.

"It is something that we don't want to talk about or think about."

Message

Ian Beaumont, of Colon Cancer Concern, said Dave had done a tremendous job raising the profile of the disease.

"He showed that somebody who is fit and healthy could get the disease. He opened people's eyes.

"It (cancer) came upon Dave suddenly, and when he did go to the doctor they found a large tumour which had spread.

"We want to encourage people to go to their doctors with their concerns, but because people are embarrassed or ignorant about the symptoms they often go when it is too late."

He said Dave had been instrumental not only in highlighting the pub campaign, but also by fighting to get a national screening programme, which will be phased in next year.

"We are going to carry on his fight.

Bowel Cancer
35,000 people in the UK get bowel cancer annually - about half of these will die
Early diagnosis means a better prognosis

"He was an inspiration to others. He was the sort of guy that people would say 'if he has got it then I could have it'.

"One man wrote Dave a letter and said that he had gone to the doctor and his cancer had been caught in time because he had seen Dave on the television and decided to get his own symptoms checked out.

We got lots of calls and it shows how powerful the human voice can be."

Dave's widow Jill said her husband spent his last two years campaigning to raise awareness.

"He really wanted to make people aware of the early symptoms. It was such a big killer. And the symptoms were something people did not want to talk about."

"As soon as he noticed symptoms he did go to the doctor. He was not the sort of person who would ignore symptoms.

"He was fit and up until he became ill, and he would play five-a-side football.

"He had a very healthy lifestyle, and he does not fall into any of the at-risk groups.

"He did not drink heavily and even though he worked in the licensing trade he would abstain from drinking for a month just to show that he could."

"He was always a man with a cause. He ran the New York marathon for Scope and he was always a generous, wonderful and giving man."




SEE ALSO:
Cancer patients 'wait too long'
24 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Plant diets can ward off cancer
22 Jan 05 |  Health


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