A BASINGSTOKE man has spoke movingly about feeling 'lucky' to still be alive after being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. 

Andy Gillham, a retired HR consultant from Old Basing, was told he had two years left to live by doctors in 2018.

The father-of-two told The Gazette that 22 months on, he feels lucky to still be here. 

The 67-year-old said: “I am lucky because my brain still works properly.

“I am not confined to a chair, and am fortunate with the support from my wife and friends."

Speaking frankly about living with the illness and the threat of death, he said he feels blessed to have the support of his family. 

Andy said: “Philosophically I find myself thinking just how lucky I am if you consider 7.5 billion or so souls currently alive on planet Earth, I would say with some confidence that I have lived a more fulfilling life than probably 7.3 billion of them already.

“When the final balance sheet of life is audited, it will be found I did ok.”

Leading up to his diagnosis, Andy was experiencing problems with his gut and went to Hampshire Clinic to discover that he had the disease.

The malignant tumour was making its way outside the bowel wall, and the MRI scan showed the cancer had spread to other organs.

In the UK alone, over 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.

Around 270,000 people living in the UK have been diagnosed with bowel cancer. It has a survival rate of 53 per cent. 

But 16,000 people die from the disease each year, with 44 deaths recorded every day.

Andy hopes to survive his birthday on November 1 and celebrate his 43rd wedding anniversary on August 20.

Reflecting on the difficulties of living with bowel cancer, the 67-year-old said: “I am on drugs, and get very tired most of the time, and wake up late at night.

“It is the breathlessness, tiredness and lack of power.

“My muscle mass has reduced massively, and have lost three stones as the cancer eats away at you.”

Andy will be organising a sponsored walk for a cancer charity, Red Trouser Day, on August 30 in London.

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What are the symptoms for bowel cancer? 

Bowel cancer can be one of the hardest cancers to diagnose as it can come with no symptoms.

According to Cancer Research UK, the main symptoms of bowel (colorectal) cancer in men and women can include:

  • bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
  • a change in your normal bowel habit, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation
  • a lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side
  • a feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • losing weight
  • pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • tiredness and breathlessness caused by a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia)

Sometimes cancer can block the bowel. This is called a bowel obstruction. The symptoms include:

  • cramping pains in the abdomen
  • feeling bloated
  • constipation and being unable to pass wind
  • being sick

A bowel obstruction is an emergency. You should see your doctor quickly or go to A&E at your nearest hospital if you think you have a bowel obstruction.