WHEN Guy O'Leary's wife urged him to see a doctor he dismissed her pleas.
He was a fit and healthy 34-year-old in the prime of his life – and he had no symptoms.
Guy pictured with his wife Aoife
But with his family history of bowel cancer, Aoife was desperate not to lose him to the disease.
So Guy, originally from Dublin but now lives in London, finally gave in and reluctantly made an appointment for a check-up.
It ended up being a decision that would change his life after doctors discovered a tumour and diagnosed him with stage 4 bowel cancer.
He said: "I am lucky, despite a horrendous year. My father had Stage 1 bowel cancer two years ago and there is a history of cancer in the family.
"My granny died of it and my dad's brother and sister also had it. My wife was adamant I had to get checked and I was putting it off.
"But when I was 34 in November 2017, I went to get checked.
"I had no symptoms — nothing, I was fit, I don't smoke and I am healthy. But they found a tumour and it all started then."
Guy underwent a bowel resection where they removed some of the bowel and at the start of 2018 he was given the all-clear.
But then in March of last year, a PET scan found the cancer from his bowel had gone to his liver.
He underwent more surgery to remove some of his liver, and then 11 rounds of chemo over six months. The 35-year-old has now been cancer-free for over half a year.
And despite a "horrendous" year, he feels "lucky," and wants to dedicate his spare time to raising money for research.
He said: "If I was getting a message across from all this, it would be to raise as much money as I can for cancer research.
"My granny had this 30 years ago and they couldn't even diagnose it properly, and 30 years later, they can find it and cut it out twice and I am walking around OK.
"There have been some amazing advancements. I am back in work now — 12 months ago I never thought I would be.
"Even my liver surgery, 20 years ago they would have to cut open your whole abdomen and it would have been a huge operation and the recovery would have been so long.
"This time it was a minimal keyhole surgery, with a Di Vinci robot and it was just a small incision. I walked out after four days and I started my chemo ten days after."
SWIM FOR LIFE
Guy, who now lives in London, is swimming a mile everyday in May to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, alongside friends, family members and some of the nursing and surgical staff who helped save his life
So far he has raised over £32,000 (€37,000) for critical research.
He said: “I was aiming for €1,000 a day, so €31,000. But we have beaten that so I don't have a target, just as much as I can for research.
"I was told €27,000 can fund a month of bowel tumour research using a cancer they grow in the lab. Even if they find it doesn't work, that is one month ahead of where they were."
His final swim will be in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the morning of May 31 — the same day his sister is getting married.
And for a man who could barely walk during his chemo, he is now fighting fit.
Guy is cancer-free now, but he added: "Your mental health when you have cancer, I actually think that is the toughest part. I had to get reintroduced to normal life. It changes you forever.
- YOU can donate to Guy and his campaign at mileadayinmay.org.
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