A PENSIONER from Warrington has praised Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service for helping her find out that she had bowel cancer “before it was too late”.
A member of staff from the brigade’s prevention team arranged for Gwen Pugh to receive a free home bowel cancer screening kit as part of a Safe and Well Visit in June last year.
It arrived within a week, and three days after using the kit and sending it off for analysis Gwen was informed that her samples showed cell abnormalities and given an appointment to see bowel cancer specialists at Aintree University Hospital.
The mum-of-three was subsequently diagnosed with bowel cancer and underwent a major operation to remove a tumour at Warrington Hospital.
She has since been told the operation was a complete success and that doctors are hopeful that she is now bowel cancer free.
Gwen, now 79, said: “My husband Gareth and I can’t thank the staff at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service enough for enquiring about my health when they came to our home to sort out a problem we had with our smoke alarms.
“They asked if I had ever received a bowel cancer screening kit from the NHS. I told them that my husband had but I hadn’t and that I would like one.
“They arranged for me to be sent one and although I received it within a week I didn’t use it for a few months.
“It took me discovering some blood after going to the toilet to spark me to use the bowel cancer screening kit.
“Within three days of me using it and sending it off I was told that I had abnormalities and given an appointment at a hospital bowel cancer clinic.
“I was quickly diagnosed with bowel cancer and operated on and I have now been told by specialists that they believed it has all been taken out and been given a positive prognosis in regards to the bowel cancer.
“With everything being done through the bowel cancer screening people as opposed to my own GP, the whole process progressed very quickly.
“Despite me having to have various tests and appointments with specialists to discuss my options, I had my operation less than three months after sending the bowel cancer screening kit off on 18 October 2017.
“The operation was on my husband’s 80th birthday in January.
“I am looking forward to turning 80 myself in February but if it wasn’t for the staff at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service enquiring about my health as part of a Safe and Well Visit and arranging for me to be sent a bowel cancer screening kit I may not be here now.
“They ensured that I was able to get my bowel cancer diagnosed and treated before it was too late and I am eternally grateful to them for effectively saving my life.”
“I think it’s a great idea for firefighters and fire and rescue service staff to be trained to help people with health issues when they visit their homes to check that they have working smoke alarms and to give them fire safety advice.
“People tend to trust firefighters and fire service staff and will talk openly with them.”
The Safe and Well Visits programme was launched in Cheshire in February last year in collaboration with the NHS and local authority directors of public health.
Since then the groundbreaking programme has scooped a host of awards.
Nick Evans, head of prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The latest figures show that without a Safe and Well Visit almost 29,000 people in Cheshire may have suffered adversely through not knowing where to turn or not realising they may have something needing medical attention.”
People over the age of 65 can book a Safe and Well Visit via Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website – www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/home/safe-and-well-visits – where residents can carry out their own home safety check by completing a questionnaire. This can also be done by downloading the free Risk Rater app from the App Store or Google Play store.
This home safety check enables people to generate their own personal home safety plan with advice on how to prevent fires.