“I was 51, reasonably fit and had a cancer normally found in people over 60"
When sales manager John Marenghi shed nearly two stone in six months he thought his new diet was working well!
Fortunately for John, his wife Liz wasn’t as easily convinced - telling him he was ‘kidding himself’ if he thought he’s changed his eating habits to such an extent.
Tests went on to show that – at just 51-years-old – John had bowel cancer and would need major surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy.
Now the dad-of-four, who lives in Rowlands Castle, is warning people to be on the lookout for bowel cancer symptoms – whatever their age!
John first noticed a small amount of blood after a bowel movement and told himself he would ‘act on it’ if it occurred again.
But, as there was no re-occurrence, John put it to the back of his mind and it was only when his wife pointed out that his ‘new diet’ couldn’t possibly be the reason he had lost so much weight that he again noticed very small traces of blood in his stools.
“I went to my GP but, to be honest, he didn’t seem too concerned at first. It was only when I returned again as the condition worsened that he sent me for tests which showed I had a stage 3 tumour that needed immediate treatment.
“National screening for bowel cancer doesn’t start until you reach 60 but it can happen to anyone. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was only 51, I was reasonably fit and I had just been told I had a cancer normally found in people over 60,” he said.
John underwent an 11-hour operation to remove the tumour carried out by Colorectal Surgeon Mr Jim Khan, followed by six gruelling months of chemotherapy.
“It was tough, at times very tough, but you have to focus on the end result. There will be times when you feel fine and others when you feel absolutely terrible but it is important to keep telling yourself you will get through it,” said John.
“I can't thank Mr Khan enough - it is no exaggeration to say he saved my life and I will be eternally grateful to him and the whole medical team for the care they gave me.”
But the footnote to the story came one year after John finished his chemotherapy course and was declared cancer clear. He ran the London Marathon and raised nearly £5,000 to help buy robotic equipment to be used in future bowel cancer surgery.