Never too young

Bowel cancer Mark Cheetham Shrewsbury Shropshire consultant surgeon Nuffield

They said you were too young to have cancer, They were wrong.
They said the bleeding was your piles, It wasn’t.
They said the anaemia was because of your periods, They were wrong.
They said the belly ache was your irritable bowel, It wasn’t.
You sit in front of me, pale, ill, in a flimsy hospital gown. In an cramped, depressing room on the ward, The paint peeling off the wall. Sun shines through the window, I hear laughter outside. Your husband sits beside you, worried. Rushed in from work by a panicked phone call.

It’s bad news.
The scan shows a tumour, a perforation, shadows on the liver. Major surgery and chemotherapy lie ahead. You’re younger than I,
Two little kids at home. It feels all wrong.
You cry and so do I.
I’m not supposed to cry,

Fuck that and fuck cancer too.

Never too young.


By Mark Cheetham

my contribution to World Cancer Day


  1. We are so grateful to Mark Cheetham. In 2007 he diagnosed my husband with bile duct cancer. Operable and curable he said, it’s only small, so we believed him.
    My husband was referred to Birmingham liver unit, who said sorry, palliative care only 6 months. However, we believed what Mark Cheetham had said, who wouldn’t, and paid for a private MRI scan which proved that it was indeed operable and curable.
    Ten years on my husband is still here and classed as cured.
    We have never been able to thank Mr Cheetham personally, so we would like to do it via this page. We will be eternally grateful to you Mr Cheetham, and to the surgeons at Birmingham QE who eventually operated on my husband Neville

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