An NHS worker has said he was diagnosed with cancer after initially being informed that his worsening symptoms were irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). John Clegg, of Clifton, Nottingham, was told he had stage four bowel cancer that had spread to his liver in February 2021.
The 37-year-old is now being told by doctors that he will most likely not survive until the end of the year but he believes there was “no urgency” by his GPs to properly recognize the signs of cancer. Mr Clegg has worked as a medical secretary at Lings Bar Hospital-he fell ill and noticed changes to his IBS symptoms in 2019, just two months after he married his wife, Claire.
Since his diagnosis in 2005, Mr Clegg has always been able to manage his condition effectively. He suspected something was wrong when it got to the point where he was losing blood 10 to 15 times a day, Nottinghamshire Live reports.
Because of this, he went to his local medical practice more than 20 times between 2019 and 2021. “It was really, really bloody stools. Some of it was just blood, filling the pan,” he recalled.
“Each time I was looking progressively worse, I was losing weight and looking like a skeleton. Because of my age they just never checked for bowel cancer.
“At some point you’ve got to turn round and say ‘something’s not right here’. There was no urgency with the doctors. The earlier you catch these things the greater your chances of survival and the easier the fight is.”
After pushing for a colonoscopy in January 2021, he received the devastating cancer diagnosis which had reached his liver and nymph nodes on February 5. “It was like being sideswiped by a Mack truck,” he described.
“I managed to stay quite strong but inside it was difficult, it was one of the hardest, if not the hardest days of my life. “I don’t know how I managed to stay as strong as I did. But my wife and my dad broke down into pieces – inside I was right there with them but in those situations, you’ve got to stay strong and positive.”
Doctors stated that if Mr Clegg did not start treatment immediately he would be dead within 10 weeks. Initially, he responded well to chemotherapy but was told over Christmas that he had stopped working.
In March this year, he was told his chances of seeing 2023 were slim. He is now undergoing chemotherapy that has a minor 25 per cent chance of working, but hopes to raise funds to help pay for private treatment, such as those available abroad.
So far, he has raised £4,000 of his £42,500 goal on GoFundMe which would pay for one round of proton beam therapy, a form of radiation treatment. “Every new day I wake up is a gift, I owe it to myself and my family to keep fighting as long as it takes,” he said.
“I’m still here and I’m still kicking so until the day comes, I’m going to continue to keep fighting.”
Wife Claire said: “We’ve missed so many family events and parties. Just normal life – going to the pub, meeting up with friends, going out for Valentine’s Day and to the cinema.
“We don’t do any of that anymore. We still want our honeymoon.”
Jack Eyre, manager at Castle Healthcare Practice, said he could not comment on Mr Clegg’s case due to ‘reasons of confidentiality’. He said: “We are sorry to hear of his diagnosis of him and wish him all the best in respect to his ongoing treatment of him.”