A 38-year-old man from Warrington, who initially put his weight loss down to stress and not eating properly before being diagnosed with bowel cancer, is sharing his story to raise awareness during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April and is encouraging others not to ignore symptoms.
Rob Gore, who has a four-year-old daughter and two stepsons, was diagnosed in 2019 after family members noticed his weight loss and his wife, Kirsty, booked him a GP appointment.
“I’d noticed some blood when I went to the toilet and my mother-in-law commented on how much weight I’d lost at a family party. We put it down to stress at work, not eating right and maybe too much alcohol. But Kirsty booked me an appointment anyway,” Rob explains.
Cancer was found in Rob’s bowel, along with nodules on his liver and lung.
“By the time I received my diagnosis, I’d resigned myself to the fact it was serious,” says Rob. “Kirsty was obviously devastated. I think my positive attitude throughout all this has really helped her. If I stay positive, it puts her mind at rest. The kids have taken all of this in their stride. In the beginning, they were always asking if they could help me. They’re amazing and took to these changes in our family like ducks to water.”
Rob was fitted with a stoma bag and began six rounds of chemotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s clinic in Halton Hospital’s CANtreat unit in March 2019.
“The Clatterbridge team in Halton are amazing,” says Rob. “It was such a welcoming environment; nothing like what you seen in the films, where cancer treatment happens in dark and gloomy hospitals. The experience was so positive, even if my first treatment was a little daunting.”
Rob is telling his story to mark this year’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month which takes place during April to raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms and encourage anyone who is concerned to seek medical assistance.
Two years after his diagnosis, Rob continues to receive chemotherapy and had successful surgery to his liver in December 2020.
“The future looks good,” he says, “and I’m recovering well from my surgery and the treatment I’m having. I trust the teams looking after me implicitly. They know what they’re doing and I’m in the very best hands with the NHS. Never have I wanted to give up – this cancer is more of an inconvenience than anything and I just take every day as it comes.
“My family sometimes joke that I talk about my cancer too much but talking about it openly helps me and hopefully helps my family if they see me being positive about it. It’s them that keep me going.”
Dr Danielle Shaw, Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, who has led Rob’s care, said:
“I’m delighted that Rob has such a strong support network around him and them noticing his weight loss and booking an appointment with his GP was a vital first step in his diagnosis.
“Cancer care remains a priority for the NHS. If you have symptoms you’re worried about that persist for three weeks or more, please go and see your GP as Rob did.
“Blood when you go to the toilet, persistent pains in your stomach or sudden weight loss could be a sign of bowel cancer but the earlier it is seen to, the more treatable it is.”
Jeanette Ribton, Bowel Cancer Nurse Consultant at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Rob’s attitude is so inspirational. With the support of his family and friends, I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to cope through all the ups and downs that this disease can throw at you.”