Alan Titchmarsh reunites with co-star Tommy Walsh after cancer battle
Bowel cancer: Tommy Walsh and Alan Titchmarsh urge public to do screening test
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Alan Titchmarsh, 73, catapulted to fame when he hosted Ground Force alongside Tommy Walsh, 66, for five years in the late 1990s. Alan left the show in 2002, but has now reunited with Tommy to support the NHS’s first-of-its-kind cancer awareness campaign.
The duo are encouraging people to complete the NHS bowel cancer screening kit, and their reunion comes after Tommy recently underwent treatment for throat cancer.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and detecting the condition earlier increases the chances of being successfully treated.
The quick test is completed at home and involves taking a tiny sample of poo using the plastic stick provided, placing it in the sample bottle and sending it back to the NHS, free of charge, for laboratory analysis.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Alan explained why this campaign is so important to him. He said: “I am hugely supportive of the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign and the vital message it’s spreading.
“Almost a third of people sent the NHS bowel screening kit last year didn’t return their tests – which is very worrying!
“We need to encourage more people to return their tests, so we can help detect cancer as soon as possible, and ultimately, save lives.”
Alan, Tommy and NHS chiefs want to dispel the stigma surrounding the test, particularly as bowel cancer survival rates are nine times higher if detected early.
Alan continued: “I really urge everyone to do it – you owe it to your family, and you owe it to yourself. Do the test as soon as you receive it through the post, don’t keep delaying it.
“Incredibly, we found out that around one in five people put off doing the test because they’re too embarrassed or disgusted to look at their own poo. There’s really no reason not to do it.
“It’s so quick to complete, and if you do it as soon as it arrives, you can send it off the same day, and job done… Don’t put it off!”
Alan also said it was “a lot of fun” being reunited with Tommy at as if “we carried on where we left off”.
Discussing their relationship now, Alan divulged: “We don’t see each other very often nowadays, but when we do bump into each other we always swap memories of the Ground Force days – usually the times when we got the giggles, which were frequent.
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“We are aware of the huge impact the program had and I don’t think either of us can really believe that we made a garden for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.”
The campaign hits even closer to home as Alan’s close family member battled bowel cancer.
He said: “Mercifully made what we hope is a full recovery. It is a worrying and daunting process but one that can offer complete recovery if caught soon enough. I can’t overstate how imprint that is.
Tommy recently underwent treatment and surgery for throat cancer. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.
He said: “As a cancer survivor myself, I know how important diagnosing cancer early is. But I didn’t know that detecting bowel cancer at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated.
“So remember, if you are sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test, do it as soon as it arrives in the post! Put it by the loo, and don’t put it off.”
People concerned that they may have missed their invitation or have lost or thrown away their kit can call the free bowel cancer screening helpline for advice on 0800 707 60 60. Information on bowel cancer and the screening programme can be found at: nhs.uk/bowel-screening.
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