Bowel & Cancer Research Lifeline


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Bowel & Cancer Research

Dr Ranj Singh presents an appeal on behalf of Bowel & Cancer Research, who fund innovative medical research and are paving the way to better treatment.


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It's said a problem aired is a problem shared.

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It's good to talk.

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That support can make our problems seem less daunting, more manageable.

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It makes life easier.

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But what if we're too concerned about what other people might think?

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What then?

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Sadly, that can be the case when it comes to talking about

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our bowel health. Such conditions can be life-threatening

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and the charity Bowel & Cancer Research is doing all that it can

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to one day make them a thing of the past.

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At times, my life is a bit on hold.

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Things are manageable but come a certain point, you know,

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you can't go out, you do have to stay home.

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Tanya is 26 and from London.

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When she was 12, she was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome

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and suffered symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

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Since then, her condition has worsened

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and she was later diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.

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I'm tired all the time. You know, I can't eat anywhere.

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I'm forever carrying anti-sickness pills on me.

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Due to the pain and unpredictability of her condition,

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Tanya finds it difficult to make plans

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or even carry out simple tasks.

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When you have a flare-up, you can't leave your house

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because you would go to the toilet like 20 times a day - plus.

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I've always got this thing at the back of my head thinking,

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"Where's your nearest toilet?"

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Even taking my dog for a walk,

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I have to think first of all.

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It definitely is frustrating.

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There are days where I have to just, you know, cancel plans

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and not go out, basically,

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because I'm either being sick or I'm going to the toilet

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and you can't go out in that kind of state.

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But for many people, they don't really realise actually how much,

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you know, treatment I have to have to, you know, be well.

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Bowel conditions can cause misery

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and drastically reduce people's quality of life.

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Inflammatory bowel disease alone affects 300,000 people

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and bowel cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types in Britain.

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But it's this taboo around bowels and toileting that keeps them from

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being diagnosed early and, in some cases, can end up costing lives.

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Andy is 31 and from Liverpool.

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He's always been a healthy and active man.

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But two years ago he started to experience symptoms which began

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to affect his day-to-day life.

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I started getting pains in my stomach and in my gut.

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They'd come and go. It wouldn't be constant and so I kind of

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wrote it off.

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It'll just be a passing thing, it was something I ate or just made

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up a lot of excuses to myself to not go to the doctor and get it seen to.

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After a further nine months of discomfort,

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Andy was encouraged by his family to visit his GP.

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They did some blood tests which showed quite elevated

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levels of inflammatory markers in the blood

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and I went for a colonoscopy.

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They thought it might be inflammatory bowel disease

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that was causing these issues.

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I rang him up at tea-time and said, "Well, how did you get on?"

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And he said, "Mum, they've kept me in. They've found a tumour."

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So that was very hard.

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So it was a surprise to everyone when I was diagnosed

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with cancer at 30.

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They were clear that it was extremely unlikely that

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I would be cured of the disease.

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The best they could do was to try and buy me

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more time with chemotherapy.

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It was absolutely devastating.

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It's the worst moment of my life.

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And I remember saying to him, "This is all wrong.

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"You should be sitting here with me, not me sitting here with you."

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There were a few thoughts of,

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"Oh, I wish I'd gone to see the doctor earlier,

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"I wish I'd not ignored this symptom, I wish I'd done some things

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"differently," but, at the end of the day,

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you can't change what's happened.

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Bowel cancer can kill

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but it's also one of the most treatable cancers

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if caught early enough.

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All too often, however, people like Andy overlook its symptoms

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and then it can be too late.

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As a doctor, I can't stress how important it is to break

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these taboos,

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to get people talking and, most importantly, fund the vital

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research needed to one day eradicate these diseases.

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To bring that day closer,

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Bowel & Cancer Research funds pioneering studies around the UK.

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They support our next generation of scientists who are working to better

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diagnose and treat bowel cancer as well as other chronic diseases -

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to not only change lives but to save lives.

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Over the last 20 years,

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medical research has meant that more people than ever

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before survive bowel cancer and we are going in the right direction.

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Over the next 20 years, we want to make even more progress

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so that we can work one day to a day where no-one will die of bowel

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cancer or have to live with a chronic bowel disease.

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The more we know, the more progress we can make,

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so it's absolutely vital that we continue to fund these programmes.

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And it's thanks to the tireless efforts of charities

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like Bowel & Cancer Research that Paul Reynolds has overcome what

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could have been a fatal illness.

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Back in 2007, I was in my 40s in the sort of prime of my life,

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having a fantastic time, and suddenly someone tells you

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you have cancer.

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I had radiotherapy and chemotherapy

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and actually it turned out that was really successful.

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If I had been diagnosed with bowel cancer 20 years earlier,

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when the surgical innovations weren't as advanced as they were

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when I was diagnosed, then my bowel cancer could've been fatal.

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I'm here today, nine years after being diagnosed, as a direct

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result of fantastic scientists doing ground-breaking research

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and generous people donating to fund that research.

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It's going to save lives and it's going to save a lot of lives

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and it's going to make a big difference.

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Determined not to let her condition hold her back,

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-Tanya has incorporated it into her working life.

-That looks good.

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Well, these have lentils in it

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and sometimes lentils for IBS isn't great.

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Because of what I've been through, it's inspired me

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to help others that also live with chronic conditions.

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I help them manage their symptoms through diet.

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These are free from, you know, dairy,

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so this also would be a suitable option for you.

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When your symptoms are manageable, then you can live again,

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you have your life back.

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We have to live with the knowledge that we won't see him

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growing older and having children of his own, and that's...

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..the hardest thing that's imaginable for a mother and father.

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It doesn't have to be the same for everyone and

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eventually someone who is diagnosed at the stage I am

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may have better chances of being cured and that's why it's

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important that they continue to be funded to do the work that they do.

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For more than 25 years, research funded by the charity has been

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paving the way to better diagnosis and treatment.

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Their aim is that one day people will no longer have to suffer

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the devastating effects of bowel cancer or bowel disease.

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Because of their research

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we know much more now about our bowels than ever before -

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and the only way to keep making progress

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is for more medical research.

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We really need your help to fund this, so please,

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if you can, donate now.

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To give by phone, call...

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Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Bowel & Cancer Research.

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For full terms and conditions or to make a donation online, visit

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the Lifeline website at...

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Or if you'd like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to Bowel & Cancer Research

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and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing Bowel & Cancer Research on the back of the envelope.

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Thank you.

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Dr Ranj Singh presents an appeal on behalf of Bowel & Cancer Research. The charity fund innovative medical research and are paving the way to better treatment and diagnosis, so one day people might no longer have to suffer the devastating effects of bowel cancer or bowel disease.