Ireland striker Jonathan Walters has said getting tested for bowel cancer could be the difference between whether or not he sees his “little son” and two girls grow up.
The Burnley footballer, whose mother Helen Brady died aged 40 from bowel cancer, said he had been “extremely scared” at the thought of having a colonoscopy but was determined to raise awareness.
In a candid interview with BBC Breakfast, the 35-year-old Premier League striker said he had not had a mum for 23 years, adding: “It would have been different if we spotted it earlier.”
Walters explained that his mother, a nurse at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, died when he was 11.
“She found out the first symptoms when she was working and it went on from there,” he said. ”Because of my mum passing away at such an early age — she was 40 — myself and my brothers and my sister had to get checked regularly.
“I find it very difficult to talk about my mum and I don’t talk about her a lot — so to come on and to speak like this is quite hard.
“I’ve not had a mum for 23 years — it would have been different if we spotted it earlier.”
He added that getting checked might be the difference between him seeing “my little son play football and seeing my two girls play lacrosse” or not.
The footballer, who plays for Burnley and Ireland, was praised earlier in the week after he posted a series of humorous tweets detailing his experience undergoing a colonoscopy.
Within the Twitter thread on Tuesday, he spoke of the multiple stages of a colonoscopy, including a graphic description of his reaction to the laxatives.
He wrote: “MoviPrep is a laxative so you are advised to ‘stay near a toilet’. To be more accurate it should tell you to stay on the toilet as you will experience what can only be described as a nuclear bomb going off in your stomach...”
Walters also detailed his initial fears prior to having the procedure, admitting he was “nervous” at the thought of the “12,000ft” tube.
The footballer ended his thread by encouraging the public to speak to their GPs.
He wrote: “I’ve shared this with you for a reason! Colonoscopies aren’t a joke and neither is bowel cancer. It’s vile disease that can be prevented with some education and awareness on early signs of the disease. There’s no shame in doing what I’ve done.”
More than 2,700 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Ireland every year. It is also the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland. If bowel cancer is found early, it can be successfully treated.
Symptoms include blood in your bowel motion or bleeding from the back passage; pain or discomfort in your abdomen; weight loss for no reason and ongoing general tiredness or weakness.
For more information see the Irish Cancer Society’s website cancer.ie