Athletics legend Kriss Akabusi has revealed how friends saved him from bowel cancer by insisting he seek medical advice.
Akabusi, who won Olympic and world medals in the 1980s and 90s, always regarded himself as indestructible.
A soldier with the Army Physical Training Corps who outmuscled the best of America to put Britain on top of the track world.
But last night he told how trying to be “a tough guy” rather than listen to his body almost cost him dear.
“I developed piles during my time in the army and had got used to bleeding,” he said. “It became more of a problem a couple of years back but I thought I was being ‘a bloke’ by not going to see a doctor.
“Our generation grew up being ‘hard as nails, big boys don’t cry, keep it to yourself’, all that stuff. And I’m an Olympic athlete.
“As a proud, fit and energetic 60 year old I didn't think it was anything serious and it would sort itself out.
“But a couple girl friends persuaded me to get it checked out, I had a colonoscopy and was told I had polyp growths which can develop into cancer.
“Thankfully they caught them early, removed them and I’m right as rain. Another six months and the cancer could have gone anywhere.”
Akabusi knows how lucky he was and is keen nobody makes the mistake he did in turning a blind eye to tell tale signs.
Which is why he today launches the Stay on Track campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of testing and early diagnosis.
“We may think 60 is the new 40, because we’re all out there during great things, but while we look younger the body’s not and it gives you warnings.
“That's why I'm saying to everyone, know the symptoms and if you experience any of them, take them seriously and go to your GP straight away.”
Stay on Track, a new campaign led by Kriss Akabusi in partnership with Norgine and Bowel Cancer UK, aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of testing and early diagnosis. For more information: www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk
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