by Colin Campbell
A BOWEL cancer test kit is not an item of mail that anyone I imagine looks forward to receiving, necessary though it is.
We don’t need to go too much into the why’s and even less so the how’s of how it is personally carried out, other than to say it is not a particularly pleasant process, before being returned to the testing centre in Dundee in a very firmly sealed package envelope. The results arrive within two weeks.
But for over 60s it has to be done. Or at least it should be done. A significant percentage of men, who are most vulnerable to it, seem to treat the package from Dundee like a piece of junk mail and just discard it.
You don’t, I’d say, need to be an ardent health fanatic to say, more fool them. As most people know, detection of any form of cancer nowadays is eminently treatable.
A former newspaper colleague of mine, now in his 70s, has been through two operations for bowel cancer, 10 years apart, and is still going strong. Admirably strong in fact.
A friend of mine told me that he was due to have his latest test last November. He was aware of that but, because of the covid situation, he was scarcely perplexed by the reason for it.
Anyway, human nature being what it is, he was quite relaxed enough to forget about it for a few weeks, go through the festive season, and remind himself about it in the new year.
But a week or so ago he decided it was time to phone up Dundee. He was told the pandemic suspended/delayed the testing system for nine months. They checked when he is now due to be slotted in, and that won’t be till July.
None of that he said was alarming or surprising. So July it is. And an eight or nine month delay doesn’t particularly worry him. It’s just a covid related fact of life. I don’t suppose it would worry me either.
Unless of course…
Well I don’t think I need to finish that sentence.
My friend told me his father died of bowel cancer at around the same age as he is now. In those days a diagnosis could be a death sentence. With advances in treatment that is far from being the case now.
As long as it is detected in time. Which is why testing is so crucial.
After the “time of covid” it is scarcely surprising if the NHS is struggling to cope.
A and E waiting times across Scotland are the longest they’ve ever been.
The backlog for operations, including cancer operations, is the longest it’s ever been.
A nine month delay in sending out cancer screening tests, although highly unwelcome, might be seen as a relatively small issue by someone who has been far too long on the delayed waiting list for a major operation.
That would be understandable but screening delays could be devastating for some people. In fact they will be devastating for some people.
July will come round soon enough for my friend and I’m sure he’ll be fine. Well I certainly hope he’ll be fine.
Maybe all those folk waiting for delayed tests and much more so operations are being distracted and even entertained by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government currently throwing all they’ve got at Boris Johnson in a bid to increase support for their latest “spring offensive” on independence.
To be honest I don’t know how I would feel. Probably too worried about my own situation to even notice.
But these are serious times as we finally emerge from the covid crisis.
Politicians should be concentrating on the things that really matter to people, stricken, worried, even tormented people.
And Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford and Humza Yousaf look at their very worst, gleefully keeping the headlines awash with “partygate” and independence and trying to score political points instead of training their attention on the issues that really matter to people.