Elderly sports fanatic credits free bowel cancer screen testing with saving his life

Brian Stephens discovered he had the disease after a free test from the South of Tyne bowel screening centre

Joolze Dymond Brian Stephens, who credits a bowel screening kit with saving his life from bowel cancer
Brian Stephens, who credits a bowel screening kit with saving his life from bowel cancer

An elderly sports fanatic has credited a free screening test in saving his life from bowel cancer.

Brian Stephens, from Murton, County Durham, spends most of his time taking part in ultra-marathons, kayaking, and mountain biking in a bid to stay fit and healthy.

And when the 70-year-old received a bowel screening kit from the The South of Tyne bowel screening centre, he didn’t think twice about completing it and sending it back.

Not expecting anything to be wrong, Mr Stephens continued with his sports until the hospital contacted him to say microscopic amounts of blood had been found in the stool sample.

Further samples revealed Mr Stephens did have bowel cancer but, because of the screening test, it had been caught early and was operable.

Mr Stephen said: “2014 started well, I had taken a month off training prior to Christmas so most of my sports injuries were healed and I was doing a six-day week training schedule, alternating between swimming, cycling and running.

“Life continued as normal until the beginning of March when I received a bowel screening kit. I didn’t think anything of it as I had taken part in the programme in the past, so I was surprised when the hospital contacted me and explained that there had been microscopic amounts of blood found in the stool sample that I had returned.

“This didn’t concern me too much as I convinced myself that it was due to saddle sores that I’m prone to suffer from because of all of the cycling that I do.”

“After a second test again proved positive for blood, I was given an appointment for a colonoscopy where a camera is used to determine if there is any cause for alarm on the wall of the large bowel.

“Sad to say there was cause for alarm. The doctor in charge pointed out to me on the monitor a bright red area. A biopsy was taken which proved that in fact it was cancer, which was verified at a later date when I had a scan.

“The results from my scan showed that the cancer had not spread and it’s impossible to describe how I felt at the news that it was operable and that I was going to survive.”

He underwent an operation in March which was successful.

“Although it wasn’t the most fun week that I have ever spent, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff were wonderful and I have nothing but praise for everyone involved with my care,” he added. “The point of my story is simple, don’t throw away the bowel screening kits when you receive them through the post, for goodness sake.”

The South of Tyne bowel screening centre is a collaboration between QE Gateshead, South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland foundation trusts, and through their GP, invites all people aged 60-74 to complete a screening kit at home.


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