Buckinghamshire Musculoskeletal Integrated Care Service
Buckinghamshire Musculoskeletal Integrated Care Service (MuSIC)

Reading bowel cancer campaigner urges people not to ignore symptoms

April 1 2019

A 26-year-old, who works for Reading-based Care UK Health Care, is urging people not to ignore the symptoms of the disease that killed her father 10 years ago.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month. Care UK has made Bowel Cancer UK its charity of the year, with staff raising funds and awareness for the charity that supports suffers and their families, as well as funds research into the fourth most common cancer in the UK.

Alex Tigwell said: “Losing my father was an indescribable blow to me and my family – I was just 17, and taking exams at the time, and my brother was just 11.

“The sad thing is that he ignored the symptoms. He had felt unwell but, like so many people, he found excuses not to go to his doctor – he was suffering jet-lag from his last business trip, it was the water or the food from the last trip or something he had picked up on the flight. Unfortunately, by the time the diagnosis came it was too late.”

Alex, who is now screened every five years for bowel cancer, has made a film encouraging others to be aware of the symptoms of the condition and to act if they have a concern.

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 and
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

She said: “There is a taboo around bowels, but do not let embarrassment or fear stop you asking your GP if you have a concern. Around 16,000 people die from bowel cancer each year, making it the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. Your doctor will not make you feel embarrassed and they would feel happier seeing you than have you face an uncertain future.”

Care UK Health Care have made Bowel Cancer UK their charity of the year – pledging £10k and a commitment to raise awareness of the charity’s work. Alex has become one of Care UK’s Charity Champions, working with the charity to maximise awareness and fundraising within Care UK.

She said: “10 years after my father’s death the sadness has been replaced by a desire to prevent it happening to other people. Bowel Cancer UK does a wonderful job supporting sufferers and their families and Care UK have done a wonderful thing supporting them.

“In the Reading office we have had a bake sale that raised £240, we are running the Colour Run at Windsor Racecourse on 18th May 2019 and my friends and I are looking at other events such as a swimathons or the Basingstoke half marathon. I am not a natural runner, but I am determined to help the charity raise as much money as possible, highlight symptoms and create general awareness to help save other people dying from this horrible disease.”

You can view Alex’s film here.