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During Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April ,I would like to urge families of cancer patients to seek the practical and emotional support they need.

Ten years ago my mum was very ill. She told me it was glandular fever, but she was actually dying of bowel cancer. She was trying to protect me but it meant she ended up fighting the disease alone. I was left felling extremely alone too.

I didn’t know about the charity Beating Bowel Cancer then, but in the following years they have helped by teaching me that I am far from alone. I am actually in a massive group of people whose lives have been desperately affected by bowel cancer.

A new study, Hidden Heartache – the untold story of bowel cancer, which has been published by Beating Bowel Cancer, shows that bowel cancer doesn’t just affect those going through the disease, but hits loved ones hard – leading to sleepless nights, fear, loneliness, guilt and even family break ups.

When a family member or friend is diagnosed with bowel cancer you feel, quite rightly, that the focus should be on the patient, their treatment and recovery. But it’s vital that family and friends also get the information and help they need so they can, in turn, care for and support their loved one.

It’s also important that the person going through cancer knows that the people closest to them are being supported.

So we’re urging anyone who is affected by bowel cancer to ensure that they have sufficient practical and emotional support in order to cope – and asking others in the community to reach out to people they know who are affected by the disease.

Please remember, bowel cancer affects the whole family and they all need to feel supported.

If you have any queries or concerns about bowel cancer, there’s lots of information and support on Beating Bowel Cancer’s website www.beatingbowelcancer.org or you can call their nurse helpline on 020 8973 0011.

Sean Fletcher,

TV presenter and

Ambassador for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer