My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Father with bowel cancer told ‘symptoms weren’t anything serious’

A PENARTH dad who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 36 is backing Cancer Research UK this Father’s Day (16 June).

Richard Sugarman and his son Sam,13, are encouraging boys and men to take part in the charity’s Race for Life which has previously been a women-only event.

Taking place in Bute Park in Cardiff on July 6 and 7, participants have the chance sign up for the Pretty Muddy event on the Saturday, including Pretty Muddy Kids, or the 5k or 10k Race for Life events on the Sunday.

Richard, 47, is passionate about supporting Cancer Research UK as it’s thanks to research he is here today and able to spend quality time with his son and his wife, Sue.

He has been cancer-free for over 10 years and regularly takes part in running events, including the Cardiff Half Marathon which he completed for Cancer Research UK.

“I’m so grateful for research,” said Richard. “And I appreciate Father’s Day a lot more after going through cancer.

“Having cancer has definitely changed my perspective on life. I don’t plan for the next five years anymore – I just live for today and enjoy life with my family as much as I can.”

Richard, who owns Llandough Ironing Company with his wife, had been experiencing severe stomach pains, weight loss and eventually blood loss when going to the toilet before he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The father-of-one is keen to share his story as he wants other people with any symptoms to push for tests as it took him over a year to be diagnosed.

“Because I was young at the time, I was told my symptoms weren’t anything serious and were likely to be IBS,” said Richard.

“I had been misdiagnosed for a year despite having chronic stomach pain.

“I had been back and forth to the doctors as the pain was so severe. I was a supermarket store manager at the time and I remember being curled up on the floor in pain once.

“Then I bled when I went to the loo and went into A&E. I was still there for a couple of weeks before I was diagnosed.

“I should not have survived – the cancer had spread to three-quarters of my intestine.”

When Richard was eventually told he had bowel cancer, he felt a sense of relief.

He said: “My first thoughts were, let’s get this sorted and start with the treatment.”

Thankfully, Richard only needed surgery to remove the tumour.

He later found out he had a faulty HNPCC gene, also known as Lynch syndrome, which increases the risk of bowel cancer.

Richard said: “Sam is also at risk of having this gene, so he will be monitored when he’s older.”

Sam holds up a Race for Life ‘back-sign’ with the word ‘DAD’ written on it, as they encourage people to sign up now for the event in Cardiff.

Sam, who was only two when his dad was diagnosed with cancer, said: “I’m so grateful for the treatment that helped save my dad’s life and I’m so proud to be able to be supporting Race for Life alongside him. By coming together, we can all do our bit to help beat cancer.”

Taking part in Race for Life is a hugely moving experience as people come together to remember loved ones lost to cancer, celebrate the lives of those dear to them who have survived or support those going through treatment.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

Katie Cooze, Cancer Research UK’s Event Manager for south Wales, said: “We are very grateful to Richard, Sam and Sue for their support.

“By following their lead, and joining the Race for Life, people can make a real difference in the fight against cancer. Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.

“Our Race for Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. You don’t need to be sporty to take part. You don’t have to train, and you certainly don’t need to compete against anyone else. It’s a perfect example of everyday people doing an extraordinary thing – uniting in a common cause to beat cancer.

“By taking part in Race for Life and raising money for research, our participants play a crucial role in helping to turn discoveries made in the lab into better treatments for patients in Wales and across the UK.”

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend over £4 million last year in Wales on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

To enter Race for Life today visit raceforlife.org