How a nagging wife saved man's life

Sarah BrealeyA Norfolk man says his life was saved by his wife 'nagging' him to do a cancer screening test. Ernie Childs, 62, ignored his bowel cancer screening test for months.Sarah Brealey

A Norfolk man says his life was saved by his wife 'nagging' him to do a cancer screening test.

Ernie Childs, 62, ignored his bowel cancer screening test for months. It was only after his wife pressured him to do the test that he found he had cancer and was able to have life-saving treatment.

The grandfather-of-five, who runs Great Yarmouth Potteries with his wife Karen, said: 'Even when I had to go up to the hospital, I thought this is a terrible waste of time when I could be at work. Then they told me I had cancer. If I hadn't got there in time it would have been terrible, it would have gone through my liver and all sorts of things.

'If I hadn't done that test, if my wife hadn't been on at me to do it, I wouldn't be here now.'

Mr Childs spoke out at the start of national Men's Health Week, saying that many men do not go to the doctor, eat healthily or exercise.

Figures show that a woman in Norfolk can expect to live four years longer than the average man, while a man in Norwich is 35pc more likely to die of cancer than a Norwich woman.

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Mark Rochester, specialist registrar in urology at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, said there was a generational difference, with young men more likely to seek help and perhaps be more informed because of the internet, but older men are still reluctant.

He said: 'You see older men in particular who have put off going to their GPs because they are embarrassed about it. They want to carry on and not bother about it.'

He added: 'If they think it might be cancer they usually go to see someone quite quickly, but when they are not worried about cancer men try to brush it off.'

Jonathan Williams, assistant director of public health at NHS Norfolk, said: 'It is evident that men don't use the doctor as often as women do. They tend to leave problems longer then women. Some of these problems can be serious, like heart disease or even cancer, so leaving it longer has implications for their recovery.'

This year's Men's Health Week, which starts today, is highlighting the issue of exercise. Older men in particular exercise less than women: after the age of 35, men's activity levels fall much faster than women's. Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, which promotes Men's Health Week, said: 'It's not all men's fault for being fat and lazy. We should give them a range of ways to take part in exercise. Even walking 30 minutes a day is enough to stave off the risk of heart disease and cancer and improve your mental health.'

NHS organisations in Norfolk are organising various activities to get men moving this week, including outdoor circuits with boxer Jon Thaxton at Chapelfield Gardens on Wednesday from 12.15pm to 1pm. On Thursday from 12.30 there is a 5km fun run at Colney playing fields, with registration from noon. All are welcome to these events, while advance booking is required for a corporate games event at UEA on Friday. Businesses can enter a team and compete at different sports - book on 01603 697024.

t Has your life been saved in an unusual way? Contact Evening News reporter Sarah Brealey on 01603 772485 or email