Phil Paddison's wife Debra was plainly fed up with his dithering over completing his bowel cancer screening test kit. So she thought she would give him a little nudge.

Phil said: “After I became eligible, I was sent a test but, being a typical man, I kept putting it off because I thought nothing was wrong. My wife Debra was always asking if I’d done the test, and one day I walked into the bathroom and she’d placed the test on the toilet seat.

“I did it, sent it off, and that’s where my cancer journey began. If Debra hadn’t persisted in me doing it – and the age hadn’t dropped to enable me to do it – then I honestly don’t think I’d be here to talk about it. The bowel screening test saved my life, and I have my wife to thank for that.”

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The 57-year-old is now urging others to stop putting off medical screening because it could save someone's life - as it did for him.

He became eligible for the test after the age for screening in Wales was lowered in October, 2022, from 58 to 55. After a test detected blood in his faeces, Phil underwent a colonoscopy in Morriston Hospital which confirmed he had colon cancer. Two months later, an operation to remove the cancer was successful and Phil is back to living life as normal. For the latest Swansea news, sign up to our newsletter here

However, it could have been a far different outcome if it hadn’t been for his wife’s persistence. Since his operation in June last year, the age for screening in Wales has dropped even further to 51. People aged between 51 and 74 are now invited to take the test every two years. Bowel screening tests are offered by Public Health Wales for anyone aged between 51 and 74 who lives in Wales and is registered with a GP in the country.

It aims to find cancer at an early stage when treatment is likely to be more effective. Early detection is key, with around at least nine out of 10 people surviving bowel cancer if it’s found and treated early. The test kit is designed to measure how much blood is in your faeces and can be completed at home, with results returned within two weeks. Six months on from his operation, Phil was back in work driving heavy goods vehicles. Get the best user experience with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android

While he is now looking forward, the "care, professionalism and camaraderie" afforded to him has left its mark. Phil said: “I had CT and MRI scans in Neath Port Talbot Hospital, a colonoscopy in Morriston and for my operation I spent four days in Ward two in Singleton. I can’t thank the staff enough for how they treated me in those hospitals.

“From the janitors to the consultants, they were so caring and professional. I had such a good laugh with the nurses and a few other men on the ward. The banter was incredible. Laughter is important at a time like that because it changes your focus and mood. But the care they gave me was fantastic. I felt I was being monitored constantly, which is reassuring and is something I’ll forever be grateful for. I had fantastic support from my parents, father-in-law, friends and neighbours, but Debra has been my rock throughout.

“The emotional stress, the operation and the recovery were of course very difficult times, but the toughest part of it all was telling her that I had cancer in the first place. There is no right or wrong way to tell your wife that you have cancer, and it’s what I found the most difficult aspect of it. She had so many questions, but I could answer them because the information I was given was so clear.”

Hospital staff and a patient
Phil with staff from ward two in Singleton Hospital

Phil recently returned to Singleton Hospital to thank staff personally and hand over a donation of £700 to Ward two, courtesy of his employer. The money will be used to purchase radios for patients so they can listen to sports commentary and music, along with weighing scales.

Clive Davies, managing director of John Pearce Transport Glynneath Limited, said: “We make numerous charity donations throughout the year but at Christmas we try to support local charities that have had a direct impact on members of our staff.

“We raised the money through a raffle and really wanted the money to benefit a charity locally. Phil was in touch throughout his treatment and regularly mentioned the fabulous treatment that he received from Ward 2, so we decided to donate the money to the ward via Swansea Bay Health Charity.”