‘Don’t wait’ – BAE Systems boss’ plea to anyone with bowel cancer symptoms

A boss at one of Lancashire’s biggest employers has shared his story of bowel cancer in an effort to encourage people to be more open about their health.

Chris Boardman, group managing director for BAE Systems’ air sector, was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year and underwent successful surgery this summer.

In a video for staff at the company, which employs around 10,000 people at its sites in Warton on the Fylde Coast and Samlesbury, near Blackburn, Mr Boardman made a plea to anyone with symptoms to seek help as soon as possible.

He said: “I wanted to share my story because I think it is important we are open and we talk about issues.

“I was diagnosed with cancer of the colon earlier this year and that required a fairly intense period of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I had surgery in the summer and at the end of September it was confirmed the cancer has gone.

“What I learned through this difficult time is that there is no real reason not to reach out.

“We have a wonderful NHS and we have wonderful people in that service, a vocation to look after people’s health and well-being and preserve life.

“My plea is, please don’t wait. If you have symptoms, please contact your doctor. Just go. It’s not easy but when you have reached out you are in very safe hands with the people who are trained to help and want to help you get better.”

Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer.

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

Dr Adam Janjua, a GP in Fleetwood and chair of the Fylde Coast Cancer Steering Group, said: “The main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in your poo, a persistent change in your bowel habit or a persistent lower pain in your tummy pain, bloating or discomfort.

“I’m very grateful to Chris for sharing his story and I commend him for acting so quickly. This has clearly saved his life. Bowel cancer is very treatable if we find it early.

“If you do have any of the symptoms, please don’t hesitate. Contact your GP practice as soon as possible.”