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Dad's awareness drive in memory of cancer stricken son

PUBLISHED: 17:20 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 12 August 2010

THANKS: Nick Johns (right) praised the support his son Stephen received in hospital.

THANKS: Nick Johns (right) praised the support his son Stephen received in hospital.

DEVASTATED parents of a young man who died from bowel cancer want more people to be aware of the illness, writes Kate Nelson. Nick and Alison Johns, from Petts Wood, lost their son Stephen, 26, to the disease in November last year and now want other youn

DEVASTATED parents of a young man who died from bowel cancer want more people to be aware of the illness, writes Kate Nelson.

Nick and Alison Johns, from Petts Wood, lost their son Stephen, 26, to the disease in November last year and now want other young people to get checked out if they think something is wrong.

Earlier this month, the couple donated over £1,000 to the Chartwell Unit for Cancer Services at the Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough to buy two new reclining chairs. Mr Johns said: "This donation from family and friends is our way of saying thank you for the care that they showed Stephen during his treatment. We have had huge support from family, friends and Crystal Palace Football Club and will continue our fundraising work for both Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust and St Thomas's Hospital where Stephen was treated."

The former Coopers Technology College student, who worked for an international design company, collapsed the day before his birthday in October and was diagnosed with cancer the next week.

Mrs Johns said: "It was just seven weeks after that he died. It was a complete shock. We knew he would have a battle on his hands but not for one minute did we think he would not come through it.

"He was a fun and outgoing lad, he loved life."

Mr Johns did not show any of the traditional signs of the illness, but had had a niggling cough for over a year. His mother says he was unlucky but believes more could be done to raise awareness.

She said: "They need to stop putting an age on cancers. They say that bowel cancer is most common in men aged 50 to 55 so that's the group they target. But when Stephen was in hospital, there was another 26-year-old there and bowel cancer in the under 30s has increased more than any other age group over the last seven years."

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK after lung cancer. Some 35,500 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year and around half will die.

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