‘Time to end stigma of toilet talk, it could help to save lives’
IRFON’S WIDOW ON RAISING BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
THE wife of Irfon Williams, who inspired thousands of people with his defiant battle against cancer, is encouraging others to be aware of the signs of the disease for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Becky Williams, from Bangor, lost her husband at the age of just 46, three years after he was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer.
In order to do something positive and give something back to the NHS, Irfon launched the #teamirfon campaign shortly after being diagnosed, raising over £150,000 to support patients on Ysbyty Gwynedd’s
Alaw Unit through North Wales NHS Charity, Awyr Las.
This campaign helped him and his family come to terms with his situation and to face everyday life.
At the end of 2016 the family were told the devastating news that Irfon’s cancer had spread to his lung and abdomen and five months later he passed away on May 31, 2017.
Becky said: “Irfon was diagnosed with bowel cancer within two months of him having the first significant symptoms.
“Although we suspected there may be something seriously wrong, to hear the diagnosis was cancer at an advanced stage was a huge shock for us and we felt like our life had been turned upside down.
“Bowel cancer wasn’t a cancer I’d heard a lot about and I think that’s due to the fact there is a huge stigma around talking about toilet habits and bowels.
“There needs to be more awareness amongst the younger generation around this particular disease.
“A change in bowel habits is not something to be embarrassed about or ignore as it may indicate it could be something more serious.
“It was a huge shock when Irfon was diagnosed as there was no family history of bowel cancer and Irfon was a healthy, fit young man.
“Cancer is like a rollercoaster you can’t get off, it can be exhausting and is there somewhere every minute of every day.
“Irfon was determined the family carry on life as normal and so our focus was very much on not allowing cancer to take over our enjoyment of life which was at times a huge challenge.”
Following the tragic loss of her husband, Becky decided to use her experience to help others and has also been working with Bowel Cancer UK to raise awareness.
According to Bowel Cancer UK over 2,500 people under the age of 50 are diagnosed with Bowel Cancer each year with a 48 per cent increase since
Becky added: “I have worked with Bowel Cancer UK supporting their ‘Never too Young’ campaign.
“The campaign aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms and dispel the myth that bowel cancer is a cancer that only affects the older population – you’re never too young for this disease.
“We know that if diagnosed at an early stage then the treatment outcomes for bowel cancer are much improved, therefore it is so important that if anyone is experiencing any of the symptoms they visit their doctor.”
● Becky Williams lost her husband, Irfon, at the age of 46 years old, three years after he was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer