Man will have live audience of 100 at his bowel cancer op
A RETIRED civil servant with bowel cancer is preparing for his big debut as he goes under the knife with an audience of over 100 health professionals.
Sixty-eight-year-old John Loch, who lives near Tavistock, was today due to have a cancerous polyp removed at Derriford Hospital by one of the country's leading colorectal consultants.
Mr Loch, a grandfather-of-three, said he is hoping his public operation will raise awareness of bowel cancer and encourage more men, who are renowned for not going to the doctor, to get anything suspicious checked out.
He said: "I went to Scotland in July and thought my upset tummy was due to the change of water. But when the irregular bowel movements didn't go away I went to my local GP who referred me to Derriford Hospital."
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Mr Loch was seen by Mark Coleman, a consultant surgeon at the hospital, and director of the charity Bowel Cancer West.
Mr Loch said: "I had a colonoscopy which confirmed I had a large cancerous polyp within 15cm of my rectum. I was told it may have taken around two years to grow.
"I was initially asked if I minded being used in an experimental program and when I asked why they said it was because I was in fairly good shape.
"I am a bit worried they might drop the knife but I'm very happy to be helping with the training of young professionals."
Mr Loch said the procedure, being carried out by colorectal consultant Mark Gudgeon, from Frimley Park Hospital in London, will involve removing around 15 inches of his gut.
He said: "It's an unfortunate thing to have to go through, but how many people are walking around not knowing they have it? If I can help to raise awareness of bowel cancer it can only be a good thing."
Mr Loch's live surgery forms part of a high profile regional keyhole surgical showcase event at Derriford Hospital where over 100 surgeons and medical colleagues from around the South West region will be in attendance.
Mark Coleman, who is running the masterclass, said: "Broadcasting and showcasing operations like this is very important because it helps improve youngsters coming into healthcare to treat the disease and has a positive effect on many levels.
"There is no doubt Mr Loch's willingness to have his operation live will help raise awareness of bowel cancer."
Mr Loch said he is feeling optimistic about his surgery and is sure he will be back to carrying out activities on his farm as soon as possible.
He said: "I doubt I'll get stage fright because I'll be unconscious! But I am slightly embarrassed about having the area below my waist on display to many people, but thankfully I won't know what's going on. I'm treating it flippantly.
"I'm glad I didn't hesitate when Mr Coleman asked me to take part in the experimental program. It's important for the students, it's important for people to be aware of cancer, and it's important to try and demystify the whole thing and show people that cancer isn't the end."