Cancer doesn’t always start with a bang. When the daunting condition triggers the first signs, they are often vague and subtle.

Tony Tyler, 62, didn’t even realise he was struck with a symptom of cancer when it appeared in October 2021.

The grandad, from Norfolk, told “I was experiencing quite a lot of bloating and like most men, I ignored it for a period of time.

“I certainly didn’t realise that bloating, which was really the only symptom I had, is quite commonplace if you’ve got bowel cancer.”

Tony explained he lacked an awareness of symptoms to watch out for, thinking that the only tell-tale sign is blood in the poo.

READ MORE: Tina Turner’s health woes throughout the decades leading up to her death

“Apart from the very occasional spot which could have been put down to piles I did not have that,” he added.

While blood in the stool is one of the key symptoms of bowel cancer, there are various other signs to be aware of, including:

  • Changes in your poo (such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you)
  • Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • Tummy pain
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason.

When Tony’s symptoms wouldn’t budge and gradually kept getting more uncomfortable, he decided to see a medical professional.

“Being lucky enough to have the Vitality health insurance, I contacted the GP there and they were brilliant,” he said.

A colonoscopy, a gastroscopy and a CT scan later, histology confirmed that he was suffering from bowel cancer.

Tony, who works with horses, said: “I was a very fit person that had a reasonable diet and you do tend to assume it can’t happen to you, well I do think I’m living evidence that it can happen to anybody.”

Following the gloomy diagnosis, Tony was scheduled for an operation that saw a portion of his colon removed.

He added: “This was done by keyhole surgery and removed the tumours and a number of lymph nodes.

“Unfortunately, five of the nodes came back as infected by cancer and so it was decided that to stand the best chance of survival, I needed six months of chemo over eight rounds.”

The chemotherapy really got under Tony’s skin but he didn’t give up.

He said: “After the first round of chemo, I’m not an overly emotional person, but I literally burst into tears one day, which is just not me. 

“In April, my first grandson was born so that’s helped to keep me going all the way through.

“Having chemotherapy is never going to be fun but being able to have it at home was great as it allowed me to carry on working and I was in the comfort of my home environment.”

Fortunately, Tony defeated the deadly condition and was given the all-clear in September 2022.

However, the grandad can’t shake the feeling that he should have visited his doctor earlier.

Tony said: “From a personal point of view, I can’t help but think, had I gone and got a check a little bit earlier, would I only have been at stage two? 

“Then I needn’t have gone through the chemotherapy because the operation was the easy bit, it was the chemotherapy that was hard.”

However, he has decided to focus on “important” things, including enjoying time with his grandson and paying more attention to his diet.

The 62-year-old is now keen to spread awareness of bowel cancer and the lesser-known symptoms, such as bloating, that come with it.

“It’s one of those things that sometimes people are not inclined to talk about, and it’s like with mental health, I think people should talk more about it because I think that awareness is critical,” he added.

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