Four years ago, Mark Munsie, then aged 56, sent a sample off to the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre as part of the national testing programme.
Having had no symptoms, Mark – the operations director at Dundee Heritage Trust – did not expect to hear back from the laboratory.
But when his results came back positive, he was asked to take a second test.
“Every two years, over 50s are sent a test which screens for blood in your poo,” said Mark.
“My test returned a positive result requiring a further test to confirm the first result.
“The second test was also positive and indicated a problem, but not necessarily cancer at this point.
“To confirm if cancer was present I was required to undergo a colonoscopy.
“During this procedure a tumour was seen and a biopsy taken. The biopsy test then confirmed the cancer and a scan classed it at stage one.
“As you would expect it was a bit of a shock but surprisingly I was upbeat and very calm as I knew that bowel cancer is treatable if caught early.”
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Mark, now 60, is speaking out about the importance of screening.
“As my initial diagnosis was stage one I was very lucky and just needed surgery to remove the cancer,” he said.
“The diagnosis was a shock for the family as even the word ‘cancer’ is a very frightening.
“In some ways it can be harder for the family around you who have to try to stay positive and supportive.
“I developed a coping strategy which recognised I had cancer but I needed to take a number of steps, or boxes as I classed them.
“Each box allowed me to focus on what I knew about my condition and stopped me speculating about future outcomes.
“Each update about progress allowed me to move into the next box.
“That allowed me to concentrate only on what I knew and deal with the facts as they arose.
“As a coping mechanism it allowed me to deal with the facts and not speculate or worry about what could happen, only what was happening.”
Mark, who was treated at Perth Royal Infirmary, added: “The treatment I received was exemplary.
“It was fast, efficient and I was kept informed at all stages.”
Six weeks after his diagnosis, Mark had surgery to remove the tumour in his bowel and was given a stoma. Six months later he had the stoma reversed and his bowel reconnected.
Mark said: “I am fully clear after four years and very lucky I didn’t need any radiotherapy or other treatments.
“Because it was caught early via the screening programme my treatment was successful.”
Mark now volunteers with Bowel Cancer UK and travels around Scotland to speak about the importance of screening.
He said: “My family were hugely supportive and I recognised how important this was so I wanted to support others in any way I could.
“I am very grateful to the bowel screening programme and realised that without it I may not have been so lucky in catching the cancer so early.
“I volunteer with Bowel Cancer UK to help raise awareness of the disease and the need for people to participate in bowel screening and reduce deaths from this disease.
“Early detection is the key – being aware of the symptoms and seeking medical advice if you are worried.
“And for those over 50, taking part in the bowel screening programme is essential and can save your life.”