Jeremy Bowen, the veteran BBC foreign correspondent, has revealed that he is being treated for bowel cancer.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, a show he used to present, Bowen said he was diagnosed with the disease last October.
“I had some funny pains in my legs and my back when I was in Iraq last May, and when I came back I had to go to hospital for a couple of days but they didn’t mention cancer, they said it was to do with scar tissue that I had from a previous surgery,” he told the hosts Dan Walker and Louise Minchin.
“But I thought I should get a test, so I went to my GP, and I’d had none of the classic bowel cancer symptoms, nothing at all, but I thought I should get a test.
“So I got a test and it was positive. I had a colonoscopy where they put a camera on a stick up your bottom, [which] is not nearly as bad as it sounds, and they give you lots of drugs and from that they found out that I had a tumour, and I had surgery, got [it] taken away and now I’m having chemotherapy.”
He said his diagnosis “could have been a bit earlier, but had it been much later it would have been much worse”, and he urged viewers not to be embarrassed to go to their doctors if they feel pain.
“The key thing is to get tested … Bowels and poo are not the normal things people want to talk about, but don’t die of embarrassment, for God’s sake.”
Bowen said he had decided to go public for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. “I’ve kept quiet about it except to my nearest and dearest and friends, but I thought why not?
“And if me coming on your programme means a few extra people decide to get tested and as a result get their cancers caught, then it’s time well spent. Actually if there is something wrong with you, it’s far better to know. There’s great treatment there.”
He added: “It’s more reassuring to know that something’s being dealt with than thinking: ‘I’ll wait till next week’. Don’t wait till next week!”
Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor and has worked for the broadcaster since 1984. He has reported from more than 70 countries and covered conflicts in the Middle East and the former republics of Yugoslavia