A sister has issued a warning after her fit and healthy brother died from bowel cancer within a year of diagnosis aged 33.
Benjamin Millard used to go to the gym twice a day and was diagnosed with stage-4 bowel cancer.
He died eight months after his diagnosis just before his 34th birthday.
Benjamin’s sister Abby Morris says he wasn’t displaying the usual symptoms of bowel cancer.
Abby told LancsLive : “He really looks after his body. And was really fit and healthy – at least on the surface.
“So when he was 33, to receive the diagnosis of stage 4 advanced cancer with a very poor prognosis shook us all.”
She added: “On the face of it he was such a fit man.
“When we heard the news it was devastating. It was so hard to believe.”
It was her brother’s story that encouraged Abby to set up The Bowel Movement.
Described by his wife Laura as an “intelligent, confident man with a massive heart” following his death in 2019, Benj was a loving husband, son, stepdad, brother and uncle.
His friends called him “Thanos” after the marvel comic character because he had a “personality as big as the universe”.
Abby, a doctor and lecturer at Lancaster University, said: “It’s vital we challenge this misconception that young people don’t get bowel cancer – early diagnosis is so important – and GPs have a big role to play in that.”
Abby’s story of what happened to Benj, from Frome, has now been included in a film that has been produced to warn others of the dangers and encourage people to come forward if they are displaying symptoms.
The film has been produced by former BBC Correspondent Clinton Rogers who says he just wants people to be aware – and not be embarrassed to come forward if they have symptoms.
Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.
Yet consultant colorectal surgeon Paul Mackey, from Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, says it is people’s reticence to come forward that can lead to serious problems.
Mr Mackey, who also features in the film, said: “People are reluctant to talk about their bowel symptoms and their toileting habits – and that is a big issue.
“But if you’ve got ongoing bleeding, if you’ve got an ongoing change in your bowel habits, you must come forward and be investigated. The rule is: Don’t sit on your symptoms.”