Regular blood donor, Chris Stanton, aged 66 of Guildford, knew that giving blood saves lives but he never expected that the life saved would be his own.
The routine check undertaken when he attended to give blood, what would have been his 85th donation, revealed that he was anaemic and therefore unable to do so.
Chris thought nothing of it, but when he returned a month later, in June 2013 to donate blood, he was again told that he was anaemic and was referred to the Royal Surrey County Hospital for tests.
He then received the devastating news that he had stage 2 bowel cancer.
Six years later Chris is now cancer free and passionate about encouraging others to give blood and to spread the word about the importance of early diagnosis in dealing with bowel cancer.
“I am so glad that I was a blood donor,” Chris said.
“I knew that giving blood saves lives but I never thought it would save my life.”
Chris has made the brave decision to share his story to mark World Blood Donor Day (14 June), as well as to raise awareness of the most common symptoms of bowel cancer and highlight the importance of early diagnosis in a successful outcome.
“It’s important to know that you can survive this, but the key is early diagnosis,” he said.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and don’t necessarily make you feel ill, although more than 90 per cent of patients have one of the following:
- Persistent change in bowel habit
- Blood in stools
- Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating.
However, most people with these symptoms will not have bowel cancer.
Following his referral to Royal Surrey, Chris was shocked to discover he had bowel cancer.
He regarded himself as healthy and had no symptoms which he associated with the disease.
Seeing familiar faces at his appointments and the support he received from hospital staff made a real difference to both him and his wife.
Chris praised the quality of care he had received from Royal Surrey which he described as, “a real team effort.”
“Nurse Angela Bates was a regular contact and great support to my wife and I when I was diagnosed; she was so supportive,” Chris said.
Chris required surgery in 2013, which was successful and as a result he did not need radio or chemo therapy.
Last autumn he was delighted to be told that he was cancer free.
Medical Director, Dr Marianne Illsley said: “All hospitals rely on the generosity of blood donors like Chris to ensure that there is the right blood available for patients when they need it.
“I am delighted that we were able to support Chris and that he has had such a good outcome.”
Chris works for Guildford Borough Council as a Rural Affairs Officer and enjoys time with his children and grandchildren.
He added: “It’s good to be back to normal but I am disappointed that I can’t give blood. I do everything I can to encourage the people around me to give blood. It will save lives and it may be your own.”