Clan's 2024 Bowel Cancer Awareness Event

Kenny Strachan

A former AFC coach will warn against the dangers of missing a bowel cancer screening test at a public event organised by Clan Cancer Support later this month.

Kenny Strachan (62), who was part of AFC’s Women’s football coaching team before his bowel cancer diagnosis, has been coming to the charity for emotional and physical support since 2022 following life changing surgeries.

He will share his experience at Clan’s Bowel Cancer Awareness event from 10am – 12pm on Saturday, April 27, at Clan House in Aberdeen as part of the charity’s activity during Bowel Cancer Awareness month.

Kenny, who also coached Scotland’s U17’s team for seven years, is now cancer free but has struggled to return to work following his surgeries and credits Clan for helping him to turn his life around.

He said: “I came to Clan after being referred to the charity by the colorectal team at ARI. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I was struggling mentally following my surgeries and felt a sense of hopelessness at not being able to continue with football and not being fit to work.

“The charity offered me the opportunity to talk about my feelings, my worries and thoughts that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with those who know me. I also started attending Clan’s exercise class which helped me work on my physical strength and meet a group of like-minded people who have gone through similar experiences. That has been invaluable to me.”

Around 4,000 people in Scotland get bowel cancer every year making it the country’s third most common cancer.

People living in Scotland between the age of 50 and 74 years are invited to complete a bowel screening test every two years in Scotland to detect any abnormalities.

Kenny was diagnosed shortly after completing a routine bowel cancer test but admitted he did miss the test on one occasion, something he now regrets.

He said: “Having reflected on my cancer journey over the past few years I now realise just how important that simple testing procedure is. By the time I was diagnosed, the bowel cancer was more advanced.

“I was extremely lucky. So my message at this month’s event is simple – take the test and you could save your life.”

Clan’s Bowel Cancer Awareness event aims to inform and support anyone who is worried about symptoms, those living with bowel cancer and anyone currently supporting someone with a diagnosis.

Guests will also hear from NHS Grampian’s colorectal team with information about symptoms, medical treatment and practical advice on stoma care.

Attendees will also be invited to take part in a Q&A session enabling them to get more information from healthcare professionals and Clan’s services team, which has seen its colorectal referrals more than quadruple in the last year.

Kay Johnston, head of cancer support services at Clan, said: “Our bowel cancer awareness event has been borne out of our partnership with NHS Grampian’s colorectal team and our joint desire for people to have accurate information about bowel cancer and know what support is available to them in the event of a diagnosis.

“With almost seventy percent of our colorectal cancer referrals now coming from an NHS staff member, it’s clear there is a need for our services and that Clan can play an important role in a patient’s cancer journey.

“We hope this event proves to be useful and gives people the knowledge and the courage to seek advice from medical professionals if they have any symptoms and to talk to Clan about the support we can offer them and their loved ones.”

As well as offering listening support to help people navigate their cancer journey, the charity also runs exercise classes led by a specialist instructor with a focus on physical exercise to help cancer patients prepare for and recover from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

George Ramsay is a senior lecturer at University of Aberdeen and consultant colorectal surgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He is also a Clan board member.

He added: “To give our patients the best possible outcome, we need to ensure they are in good physical and mental health before and after any operations or treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“Clan is well placed to provide the emotional and physical support that we can’t facilitate in a medical setting and the bowel cancer awareness event is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that partnership whilst also sharing important information with the public.

“We know that people can feel embarrassed by anything related to bowels, but it’s our hope that by sharing information publicly and raising awareness we can give people the confidence to get checked when something doesn’t seem right.”

Clan’s Bowel Cancer Awareness event will take place from 10am - 12pm on Saturday, April 27 at Clan House Aberdeen. Registration is required for this event. To register please complete an online form by clicking the button below or call 01224 647000.

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