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Warrington pensioner spots cancer early thanks to fire service visit; Gwen Pugh says the cancer screening, arranged as part of a fire service Safe and Well visit, has 'effectively saved her life'.

Byline: Andrew Cain

A pensioner from Warrington has praised the fire service's Safe and Well visits after they helped her pick up the early signs of cancer.

Gwen Pugh was receiving a Safe and Well visit from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service in June last year when a member of the service's Prevention Team told her about free home bowel cancer screening kits.

One was arranged to be sent to Gwen and just three days after sending it off for analysis, she was told that her samples showed cell abnormalities, prompting 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, which she has since been told was a complete success and doctors are hopeful that she is now bowel cancer free.

Gwen, 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 2018.

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"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."

Safe and Well Visits see firefighters and advocates provide more than the traditional fire safety and smoke alarm advice to over 65s.

As well as arranging bowel cancer screening kits to be delivered to people, they provide advice on slips, trips and falls prevention, tackle winter warmth safety issues in Cheshire households and conduct screenings for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that can cause strokes.

The free visits also offer support to those who wish to stop smoking or taking drugs or to reduce their alcohol consumption.

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.

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.

"And from 1 April 2018 to 25 November 2018 Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has made 1,621 referrals to the NHS hub at Rugby for bowel cancer screening kits to be sent out to eligible residents.

"Cheshire firefighters and prevention staff have carried out an impressively large number of Safe and Well Visits since the pioneering programme was launched and the figures show that it has been an overwhelming success.

"It helps to save lives, reduce the number of emergency visits to hospital and is an excellent example of the public sector collaborating and partnering up, and using resources more effectively and efficiently for the people we serve in Cheshire."

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Gwen Pugh receiving a Safe and Well Visit from Kris Greenall, a member of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service's prevention team
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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 24, 2018
Words:793
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