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Gwent man encourages others to get checked for bowel cancer

a man in a hospital bed
Lee Bennett during his hospital stay(Photo: ABUHB)

A Gwent man who recovered from bowel cancer after a shock diagnosis has encouraged others to get checked as early as possible.

Lee Bennett, 52, from Griffithstown, was a healthy and able man, an engineer, and an avid golfer in his spare time.

He first noticed changes to his energy and bowel habits around six months before seeking help, said: “I’m usually like a bottle of pop all the time. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. I suspected something but I kept putting myself down to ‘well I’m not ill. I don’t feel ill’. I had a normal life, got on with things and thought well ‘it can’t be that’.”

However, it wasn’t until loved ones pointed out his rapid weight loss that he realised he had lost over three stone in six months, and subsequently visited his GP around Christmas time last year.

Following an urgent referral from his GP, Lee was seen by the Endoscopy team within a week and after a biopsy, given the news that he had a malignant tumour. Lee credits his doctor and endoscopy team for putting him at ease and giving him a positive outlook.

He said: “The doctor said ‘You’ve come in so early, everything we could possibly do for you is still on the table’.

“At that time, I knew in my head that being positive all the way through would help. I’m a positive person, I’m always bubbly. Because I was positive, it kept me ready for what was going to come with the operation. I wanted to get back to playing golf, getting out, being normal as soon as possible.”

a man and woman
Lee with Lucy, his wife (Photo: UBUHB)

Lee recovered quickly after a successful six-hour operation to remove the tumour, returning to work just three weeks later. Two weeks after that, he revisited the golf course for the first time and has played over 20 games of golf since his discharge.

Lee was very grateful for the care and treatment he has received throughout this process.

He said: “From reporting to my doctor, to meeting up with the colorectal nurses, from the moment of me going into hospital to coming out, every single one of them knew what was going on. Every single one of them told me what they were going to do next. So I can’t thank them enough.”

Lee strongly encourages others – particularly men – to get checked early if they feel something isn’t quite right.

He said: “Anything that you feel that is different. Anything that you feel isn’t right, don’t be embarrassed to go and one, speak about it. Two, go and see your doctor. I never went to the doctor ever, but now I’m so glad I did.”

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Gwent man encourages others to get checked for bowel cancer