THERE wasn't much to indicate Bob Davis was unwell.
Just a queasy feeling in his stomach and a funny taste in his mouth.
The man who has been changing young lives at Susan River's Hard Yakka boot camp for years has shared the story of how he came to be diagnosed with bowel cancer earlier this year, hoping it will help others decide to get tested.
Bob hadn't been admitted to hospital since January, 1977.
Generally fit as a fiddle, when he started feeling sick to the stomach, he knew something wasn't quite right.
"I had next to no symptoms," the 62-year-old said.
He underwent tests and doctors told him he was clear of bacteria - it wasn't a disease or virus.
But the feeling stayed with him and Bob asked for further testing.
It was this persistence that may have saved his life.
A doctor set a date for a colonoscopy, two weeks down the track.
While there were no clear signs or symptoms of bowel cancer, Bob went to the chemist and bought a $15 test that allowed him to send off a stool sample to be checked.
"It was the day before the Hard Yakka graduation," he said.
On the day before Bob was due to have his colonoscopy, he received the results of the test.
There was blood in his stool sample, but the cause was unclear.
The next day he went in and doctors discovered that his bowel was three quarters blocked by a tumour.
In April, Bob found himself as an inpatient in hospital for the first time in more than 40 years.
He had to have part of his bowel removed along with the tumour, but at the end of the five hour surgery, the doctors told him the cancer was gone.
He was all clear.
Now as he waits for his surgery to heal, Bob is wearing a colostomy bag.
He says he gets a bit emotional sometimes, sometimes he gets angry or upset.
But overall, he feels lucky to still be alive.
There was another bloke in his 30s who was in the same ward as Bob.
He had bowel cancer too, but his was terminal.
If Bob had ignored the warning signs, he knows he too could have been looking at a terminal diagnosis.
He's encouraging friends, family and the wider community to get checked out.
Bob is hoping he can run a boot camp for young men next month and help them get back on track, just as he has helped many others.
The colostomy bag will be gone by Christmas, but his determination to make sure other people take care of their health will stay.
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