Widower who lost wife to stage four bowel cancer at 52 urges more to get tested

A man who lost the ‘love of his life’ from stage four bowel cancer when she was just 52 years old has urged people to get tested, even if they are showing mild symptoms of the illness.

In 2012, Chris Daniel’s wife Rita aged 48 at the time was diagnosed with bowel cancer after experiencing some discomfort using the bathroom.

Chris said due to the mildness of Rita’s symptoms, by the time she was diagnosed, the cancer had spread through her “liver…lungs…lymph nodes and would go on to spread to her brain”. Despite this, Rita was told she was “too young to have bowel cancer”.

He joined a leading charity in campaigning to raise awareness in Cardiff for Wales’ second biggest cancer killer. The main message he wanted people to know was “any change in (toilet) habit” regardless of age is to “go to the GP”. The main symptoms of bowel cancer include changes to your stools, blood when using the toilet, bloating, losing weight and feeling tired.

Chris from Merthyr Tydfil said that when his wife Rita was diagnosed “in Wales there was very little information”. Although, Chris said Rita’s care in their hometown was second to none, praising how positive their doctor was. But he urged people to not let “taboo” deter them as with early detection there is a “90% chance you’ll be cured”.

This year in Wales, those registered with a GP between the ages of 51-54 will automatically be sent an at home testing kit for bowel cancer. Younger people with symptoms can still get a test through their GP.

By next October, the Welsh government have said they will lower the screening age to 50. But charities warn that with more eligible for the service demand will also have to be tackled.