A FORMER mayor has spoken passionately about his battle with cancer.
John Hardy helped to spread the word about the disease as he addressed the annual conference of a charity.
John was treated by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for several months, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
But since overcoming the illness and going into remission, the former Mayor of Peterlee has been determined to help raise awareness of the warning signs people need to be conscious of.
This led to the 66-year-old being invited to the Cancer Research UK annual general meeting last month to talk about his experience.
And as far as John was concerned, it proved to be an impressive occasion.
He said: “It was a fantastic experience. They asked me to speak for 30 minutes but I ended up being on stage for well over an hour.
“Lots of people came up to me at the end to say how inspired they had been and some of them signed a card for me.
“Things must have gone well because later that evening I went to see Phantom of the Opera.”
Mr Hardy also spoke of his aims for the future.
He added: “I now just want to raise as much awareness as I can – I have told Cancer Research to contact me whenever they want. I want to do roadshow events with them and do everything I can to help.”
In September 2012, John was rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees complaining of a pain in his abdomen.
That came after a bout of loose stools for a few weeks.
Tests showed that John had suffered a bowel blockage with perforation, and urgent investigations revealed this was due to a tumour.
Emergency surgery was carried out and John was then told by consultant colorectal surgeon David Borowski that the tumour was bowel cancer.
He went on to have eight cycles of treatment of chemotherapy at the University Hospital of Hartlepool over six months, to ensure no cancer had spread elsewhere in his body.
John was put into remission a year ago, but still visits the trust regularly for scans and check ups.
Symptoms of bowel cancer that should prompt you to see your doctor are:
l a change in your bowel habit.
l bleeding from the bottom or blood in your faeces.
l a lump in your abdomen.
l unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness.
l unexplained weight loss.