I arrive back from work to find an envelope addressed to me on the kitchen worktop. In the top left corner, in bright blue writing, are the letters NHS. I know what this is about. My bowel cancer screening test results.
I am not going to pretend I forgot all about the poo sticks from a couple of weeks ago. Nonetheless, my pulse increased just a bit as I immediately opened the envelope. It read as follows:
‘Thank you for returning your bowel screening test kit. Your screening is normal. This means you do not need any further tests at this time’.
I let out a big sigh of relief. It doesn’t mean I don’t have bowel cancer, or that I will never get it, because no test is 100% effective. It means I probably don’t have it.
When I was younger, and not much younger at that, I was your typical man. That is to say, I’d hope health problems would magically go away. When I had my first poo sticks adventure, I didn’t even bother to do the tests for a good few weeks. It was only the fact that a friend who was too young for screening had developed bowel cancer shook me from my torpor. I might have left it altogether. Yes, a typical man.
This time, it looks like I am the lucky one. I’ve had my test and my mind is as at rest as it could be. And even if the medics had found cancer, I’d probably have been in a better position for treatment than had I not had the test at all.
I’m pretty well at the stage where I am starting to understand that every day matters. I am not going to be here forever and there is probably not a heaven or hell to go to once this life is over. And starting now, it’s time to get on with it.