Tyrone man raising awareness of cancer

Dungannon man David McCarter, bowel cancer survivor and volunteer for Bowel Cancer UK.
Dungannon man David McCarter, bowel cancer survivor and volunteer for Bowel Cancer UK.

A Tyrone man is using his experience of bowel cancer to raise symptom awareness so that people can act quickly on the disease.

Bowel Cancer UK volunteer, David McCarter from Dungannon, said: “I was diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer four years ago.

“I was fortunate enough to have my symptoms noticed early on and so got a quick diagnosis, meaning my odds for a recovery were much better. One of the reasons that I volunteer with Bowel Cancer is to tell my story and to raise awareness of bowel cancer and its symptoms, in my community. I want to use my experience to help people act on bowel cancer and notice symptoms before it’s too late.”

Bowel Cancer UK is currently looking for volunteers who have been affected by bowel cancer to give short talks in the community about the disease to raise awareness of Northern Ireland’s second biggest cancer killer and its third most common cancer.

Over 1,100 Northern Ireland Residents are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and around 400 people die from the disease, yet it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.

According to the charity, the symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo;

A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit;

Unexplained weight loss;

Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason;

A pain or lump in your tummy.

It also points out that ‘most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. If you have one or more of these, or if things just don’t feel right, see your GP’.

Each volunteer is trained by Bowel Cancer UK and will then go out to give talks in their local community. Sharing their own experiences of bowel cancer and highlighting the symptoms of bowel cancer, along with its risks and how to help prevent it. According to the charity, these talks are a vital way to save lives, by ensuring people can spot and stop their bowel cancer early, before it gets to a more serious later stage.

Niamh McDaid, Senior Health Promotion & Training Officer for NI at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “A key part of our work is educating patients, the public and healthcare professionals about bowel cancer, in particular the importance of early diagnosis. A vital way that we can do this is through our health promotion volunteer programme, which has been recognised by the Royal Society of Public Health. All we ask of our volunteers is that they’re enthusiastic about raising awareness of bowel cancer and are comfortable speaking in public. A full day’s training is given with plenty of time to practice the presentation, and we will support you every step of the way.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer to give and organise talks in you area, you can sign up aat bowelcanceruk.org.uk, email: niamh.mcdaid@bowelcanceruk.org.uk or call: 077985 23668.