Dad told he had IBS for years given heartbreaking diagnosis on birthday

A dad who suffered stomach problems put down to IBS for seven years discovered he had incurable cancer on his 50th birthday.

John Simpson, from Garston, Liverpool, suffered from stomach problems for more than seven years, which his GP had diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.

It was only when Mr Simpson switched GPs and was sent for exploratory tests that he started to suspect something was seriously wrong.

A tumour was found in Mr Simpson’s lower bowel and following further tests, he was diagnosed with the rare neuroendocrine cancer.

The type of tumour can develop in many different organs of the body. Doctors believe the cancer had been in his body for many years, but was slow-growing, the Liverpool Echo reports.

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The dad-of-two wanted to know how long he would have to live as at the time his mum was dying of cancer and he had just lost an aunt to the disease.

Doctors explained he could have 10 years provided he responded well to treatment.

As Mr Simpson was feeling so ill, exhausted and wasn’t eating, he stopped work immediately. It was an incredibly difficult time for the family as they had also just lost Mr Simpson’s dad to an aneurism.

Now 53, Mr Simpson has undergone surgery to remove tumours from his bowel, diaphragm, peritoneum and liver since then, and is currently waiting for recent scan results.

He now wants to urge others to sign up and support the Shine Night Walk for Cancer Research UK after he and his family raised £6,000 taking park in the event.

Mr Simpson, who is a devoted Liverpool FC fan, said: “My experience means I understand the importance of Cancer Research UK’s work all too clearly.”

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He added: “My world fell apart when I was diagnosed. It’s devastating news to take in. But I have had amazing support and it has helped to keep me going.

“I’m grateful to my friends and family who always encourage me to have a daily walk to keep me mobile and to keep me busy.

“Sadly, the symptoms mean I feel permanently exhausted and often need to take naps throughout the day and pace myself. I’ve always been a big strapping guy and am 6ft 2 in height, so feeling so tired I need to have a sleep after popping to the shops has taken a lot of getting used to.”

Mr Simpson knows first-hand just how important new breakthroughs and discoveries are to help more people like him survive.

Due to having his bowel resected, he can only eat a third of what he used to and leads a healthy lifestyle, trying to walk as often as possible and avoiding sugar, fat and alcohol.

Last year, Cancer Research UK was able to spend more than £1m in Liverpool. The Shine Liverpool event raised £123,758 in 2022.

Shine Night Walk participants can choose to raise money for the area of research closest to their hearts – including prostate cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, brain tumours, children’s cancers and leukaemia. Or they can simply give their backing to Cancer Research UK’s overall work.

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Merseyside, Jane Bullock, said: “We want to thank John and people across Liverpool for making our life-saving advances possible. It’s thanks to the generosity of our supporters, that we’ve helped double cancer survival in the UK in the last 50 years.

“By raising crucial funds, every step Shine Night Walk participants take will help bring us closer to a world where everybody can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of this devastating disease.”

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