Grandad’s ‘long-Covid’ turns out to be cancer – urgent warning over symptoms

Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Chris Boardman had suffered from aching joints, flu-like symptoms and bowel problems throughout 2020. But the 60-year-old grandfather of two initially put his symptoms down to Long Covid. When he went to see his GP, tests revealed a six-centimetre tumour at the end of his bowel.

Luckily Mr Boardman was given the all-clear from cancer in September 2021.

But this was only after he underwent extensive treatment at Royal Preston Hospital, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery in August 2021 at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust.

Speaking to Lancs Live, Mr Boardman said he was “lucky”.

He said: “I had thought it was Long Covid.

“I had aching joints, bowel problems and mild flu-like symptoms.

“I did have it in the back of my mind that it might be bowel cancer because my mother and father had died of bowel cancer, so it was always there in the back of my mind.

“I was lucky because I did not have major side effects from the treatment although it made me very tired, and was every day for five weeks.”

Mr Boardman, who is a former director at aerospace company BAE Systems, made the comments in a video for the 10,000 staff at the company warning anyone with symptoms to seek help as soon as possible.

He added: “I wanted to share my story because I think it is important we are open and we talk about issues.

“I was diagnosed with cancer of the colon earlier this year and that required a fairly intense period of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

“I had surgery in the summer and at the end of September, it was confirmed the cancer has gone.

“What I learned through this difficult time is that there is no real reason not to reach out.

“We have a wonderful NHS and we have wonderful people in that service, a vocation to look after people’s health and well-being and preserve life.

“My plea is, please don’t wait.

“If you have symptoms, please contact your doctor. Just go.

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“It’s not easy but when you have reached out you are in very safe hands with the people who are trained to help and want to help you get better.”

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, with most people diagnosed with it being over the age of 60.

Local GP Dr Adam Janjua said: “The main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in your poo, a persistent change in your bowel habit or persistent lower pain in your tummy pain, bloating or discomfort.

“I’m very grateful to Chris for sharing his story and I commend him for acting so quickly.

“This has clearly saved his life. Bowel cancer is very treatable if we find it early.

“If you do have any of the symptoms, please don’t hesitate.

“Contact your GP practice as soon as possible.”

Additional reporting by Claire Barre.

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