SEEING a report in the Mid-Devon Advertiser has prompted a Newton Abbot man to share his story about the importance of testing for bowel cancer.

Gerald Roye Martin popped in to the newspaper office in Newton Abbot after reading contributor Alison Eden’s column about her initial reluctance to have a test.

The retired site manager has long suffered irritable bowel syndrome. He said: ‘I’d been having abdominal pains for a while and put it down to IBS.

‘However, one morning I noticed blood in my stool, so contacted my doctors surgery in Cricketfield Road.’

That was on the Friday, and by Monday he was seeing a locum.

‘Fair play to the surgery. When I asked to make an appointment,’ Gerald, 77, said. ‘They wanted to put me on a waiting list. But when I explained why I wanted to see them, I was brought in almost immediately.’

Things moved quickly after that. Within four weeks he’d had blood tests, a CT scan in a mobile testing unit in Newton Abbot Hospital car park, followed by  an endoscopy in Torbay Hospital.

‘That was Saturday, August 20,’ he explained. ‘I had the endoscopy at 12.30pm and by 4pm they were telling me I had bowel cancer.’

The doctors said it was stage two-three cancer and they had discovered a 6cm tumour lodged against his lower bowel.

‘I knew something was up as they kept me waiting and fed with cups of tea, while I saw people who’d had their scan after me being allowed home. By the time they told me, I was already expecting the news.’

Gerald is currently waiting for a date for his operation. He’s been told it will be by the end of the month, after which he could face a course of chemotherapy.

If that proves to be the case he’s promising to have his long hair cut for a cancer charity. ‘If anyone asked who’s the money for I’ll tell them it’s for me!’

A subsequent MRI scan has discovered secondary cancers in his lungs, but despite the knockbacks, he remains supremely optimistic.

He has travelled extensively and led a busy life.

‘I’ve worked hard and played hard, and when I knock on Heaven’s door, if they ask me if there was anything I’d wished I’d done I’ll tell them no.

‘I’ve done everything I wanted to. I’m a firm believer life is for the living. Keep looking forward… don’t keep looking back or you’ll end up walkng into a wall!

‘What I want my story to do is to allay people’s fears and tell them is testing is so easy. There is no need to be embarrassed. You are seen privately and treated with utmost respect. I can’t praise the NHS enough for all they do.

‘If you have any doubts at all about whether you might have bowel cancer do not put it off!’