Lancashire

Jonathan Walters speaks of losing mother to bowel cancer

Jon Walters on set of BBC Breakfast
Image caption Jonathan Walters spoke to BBC Breakfast about his mother's death

Footballer Jonathan Walters says the heartache of losing his mother to bowel cancer aged 40 has inspired him to speak out about the importance of having regular tests.

The Burnley striker recently described his own experience of going for checks.

Walters, who had the all clear, said there was a "serious message" behind a series of humorous tweets he posted.

He was just 11 when his mother died from bowel cancer and now wants to raise awareness of the disease.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jonathan Walters signed for Burnley in 2017

The Wirral-born Republic of Ireland international joked about the moment he "nervously looked around for the 120,000 ft tube" when going for a colonoscopy.

He also said he had warned his father-in-law he might need to wear "some sort of adult nappy" when they drove to the hospital after taking a laxative ahead of the procedure.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Walters it was very difficult for him to talk about his mother's death but he hoped that by doing so it might help others get an early diagnosis.

The former Stoke City and Ipswich player said: "As footballers you have a huge media platform, so to be able to put that slant on it helps to raise a little bit more awareness by telling a funny story about the procedure you go through.

"The most important message is if you have got any signs or any worries, then go and check the NHS website or go and speak to your GP."

Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said the media coverage had really helped "debunk" fears of having a colonoscopy.

She added: "No medical procedure is one that any of us want to have but actually not acting on symptoms is far worse."

The NHS offers two types of bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in England.

Currently, men and women aged 60 to 74 are invited to carry out bowel cancer screening every two years with the use a home test kit, but Public England announced plans to start this earlier at the age of 50.

There is also a one-off test called bowel scope screening which is being rolled out in England to men and women at the age of 55.

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