Turning 60, or late thirties to be precise and being healthy is a milestone to enjoy.
I celebrated my 60th birthday in Barcelona. One of my favourite cities. And one of the best cities in the world to relax. Finishing my birthday at The Palau de Música watching The Mississippi Gospel choir soar and never falter was splendid.
Of course, there’s post to deal with on your return home. Bills, a bowel cancer test kit, circulars and the endless pizza takeaway leaflets – the usual stuff. All crap. Well not all. Yes, a bowel cancer screening kit. A present that everyone receives from the NHS on their 60th birthday in the U.K. It’s always cheering when someone remembers your birthday.
The National Health Service was founded on 5th July 1948. A monument to post war Britain and the Labour Party’s vision and aspirations for ALL to have better lives. And good healthcare regardless of wealth and that the service be “free at the point of delivery “For all of its faults the NHS is still a diamond to cherish. Not a commodity to sell to the lowest bidder for their highest profit and the lowest staff wages. My tax money and N.I. contributions should pay for staff and services not to make people like Richard Branson even richer.
When you turn 60 in the U.K. you are sent, much to my surprise and a little shock, a kit to help you take samples for a bowel cancer test. Panic!! I didn’t know I had it. I didn’t even think about it. The C word that is. Much less taking samples of my “bowel motions” and sending them to someone who I have never met. We’ve not even been introduced! The letter is addressed to me. But the kit has a barcode. It will be anonymous. That’s o.k.
Just follow the step by step instructions. In a way it’s like setting up a new stereo. Or an Ikea cabinet. Actually, the instructions are clearer and much easier to follow. The innocuous looking envelope has everything you need. All you have to provide is the stool sample. These samples are then sent in the envelope provided for testing. Joy!
Type equation here.

The kit contains a detailed leaflet explaining the programme, what is the bowel, what is bowel cancer, symptoms, how screening works, what the results mean, treatment options and a leaflet on how to use the kit. With step by step instructions to follow. All available in braille, other languages, audio CD and BSL DVD format.
You need to take samples of bowel motions each day for three days. Your hand covered in a small plastic bag worked for me. Spread a small piece from the motion on the orange and white test kit using the cardboard stick provided. And using the prepaid return envelope post the kit for testing.
ERRR!!! The gut-wrenching smell and idea of it all. Then I think. My mum was a nurse for 40 years and had carers for 20. Every day around the world health professionals save, care for and improve the lives of and see, smell and touch the most intimate parts and outputs of the human body. UNSUNG HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

About two weeks for you to get the results they say. So, you can do other things. The Murder She Wrote box set of course came up tops. Actually, it took about 3 days for my “result is normal letter”. No test is 100% they say BUT I know about bowel cancer now and it’s on my radar. I am aware. JOB DONE!!
In two years, I will receive another kit. If after Brexit and U.S. Trade deals the NHS still exists. Nevertheless, I have added the date to my diary.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme – Freefone – 0800 707 6060
Cancer Research U.K. –

Keith Stewart – from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. A qualified TEFL teacher, Murder She Wrote and Colombo aficionado. And a Presuntos Implicados fan. Happily teaching TEFL in Tehuacan, Mexico.
BLOG #57 – 11th OCTOBER 2019. © KEITH STEWART.