Peterborough dad has incurable cancer aged just 39 - urges people not to ignore or be embarrassed by symptoms
A Peterborough father and grandfather who has been diagnosed with incurable cancer aged just 39 has urged people not to be embarrassed about seeing a doctor if they think they have symptoms - as it could be a life saver.
Security consultant Russell Hadaway was working in Iraq in September this year when he first realised something was wrong.
Just three months later he was told he had incurable cancer of the bowel, liver and kidneys.
He started a course of chemotherapy in December, which it is hoped will prevent the cancer from growing and spreading further.
Statistically, Russell is young to have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, with 94 per cent of cases in the UK being people aged over 50. However, the disease can affect men and women of all ages.
Now Russell, from Meadenvale, Parnwell is urging men not to ignore or be embarrassed about any symptoms, and see their doctor as soon as possible - so they can get treatment that could make a world of difference to them and their family.
He initially noticed problems when he was working away from home, thousands of miles away.
He said: “I was out in Iraq, and started having stomach cramps and head aches in September.
“I thought I’d just picked up a bug.
“I went to my GP on September 20, and tests came back negative for any parasites or bugs.”
Following the checks, Russell was told he would have to wait before further procedures - but when the symptoms got worse, he was rushed to hospital, where the true severity of the situation was revealed.
He said: “I was waiting for a colonoscopy, as because I am under 40 they didn’t check for bowel cancer.
“Then I was rushed into A and E with severe abdominal and back pain.
“That is when they found a tumour.”
Russell, who has two sons and one grandchild, said the surgeon initially told him it would be ‘something simple,’ after receiving his diagnosis earlier this month.
But they found a ‘massive tumour’ and Russell spent nine days in Peterborough City Hospital.
He is now preparing for a gruelling schedule of treatment as specialists try and control the growth and spread of the tumour. Only when that has finished will he find out what the final prognosis is.
He said: “I started chemotherapy on December 9 for 12 weeks, and then I will have a scan to see if the tumour has shrunk or they have stopped the spread.
“Then I will get the prognosis.”
While dealing with the physical symptoms has been difficult for Russell, he said the hardest battle had been dealing with the condition mentally, and talking with his family about what the future holds for him.”
“Mentally it has been a real struggle.
“Physically, I am still quite well, but it has been difficult - you don’t expect something like this aged 39.
“It is very daunting.
“I sat down with my wife and said we have to face it head on - how else do you deal with it?
“We’ve started researching different options and procedures in case the chemo doesn’t work.
“Having friends and family around really does help you deal with everything, for someone to talk to and to the practical things.
“Everyone has been rallying round to help, giving lifts to hospital and things like that.
“My youngest son is 11, so he knows I’ve got cancer. He understands a bit about what is going on.”
Because of his work, Russell spends a long time away from home - and in a twist of fate, this year was planned to be the first Christmas he could spend at home for a number of years.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph before the festive break, he said: “This will be the first Christmas I’ve had at home for four years, so it will be a nice, family Christmas.”
Now Russell is warning others to take any signs of symptoms seriously - whatever age they are.
He said: “I spoke to some people about it, and they said they would be embarrassed about going to see someone about it - don’t be.
“If your bowel habits have changed, if there is blood - go to the doctors. Don’t be embarrassed.
“It could make all the difference.”
Symptoms of bowel cancer include bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo; A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit; Unexplained weight loss; Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason; A pain or lump in your tummy.
While people with these symptoms may not have bowel cancer, if you have more than one, you are advised to see your doctor.
Bowel cancer is treatable but the earlier it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
People whose cancer is diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher chance of successful treatment than those whose cancer has become more widespread.