In common with many BNI groups we have a chosen charity, and for the last 4 years it has been our pleasure to support GUTS, an organisation dedicated to fighting bowel cancer.

Based at The Royal Surrey County Hospital, the charity is represented by the rather splendid Nerissa Deeks who this week treated us to a ten-minute presentation about the fabulous, life-saving work that GUTS undertake, not just for local patients but across the UK via their nationwide screening programme.

Ahead of every ten-minute presentation we learn a little about the member concerned and this week Nerissa mentioned her three-legged cat, four-legged dog, her sons, and a love of politics and current affairs…before casually dropping in that she went to school with Dylan Thomas!

Nerissa began by taking us back to 1983, a year of political change in the UK, Total Eclipse of the Heart was at No.1, Lester Pigott won The Derby, Ghandi swept the board at the Oscars, Barbara Cartland wrote no fewer than 23 ‘novels’ and, more importantly, Professor Chris Marks founded GUTS.

Since 1983, GUTS has offered advice and screening to people at a high risk of developing bowel cancer.  They have also funded equipment and facilities to help improve the care and treatment of bowel cancer patients at the RSCH as well as funding research into new ways of detecting bowel cancer and into better ways of treating the disease.

54% of bowel cancers are directly linked to lifestyle choices, with red meat, smoking and lack of exercise all contributing to an increased risk. The great news is that the number of deaths from bowel cancer are slowly declining, due in no small part to early diagnosis through screening.

A main part of Nerissa’s message was to highlight the need to ‘accept the invitation to be screened’ because with early diagnosis there is a 5 year survival rate of 92%, a figure dropping dramatically to 12% for those diagnosed at a later stage.

A presentation about an extremely sensitive and potentially upsetting subject was lifted to a different level by Nerissa’s obvious passion for the cause, facts were presented and however stark they appeared, they were delivered with warmth and a genuine concern for the wellbeing of others.

We are privileged to have Nerissa as an active member of our group, GUTS saves lives…a fact underlined by the closing remark.

‘’When you get invited to be screened, make sure that you attend. Every month we meet patients that could have been helped more effectively if they had been diagnosed earlier…It’s an uncomfortable subject, but please don’t die of embarrassment’’

To view Nerrisa’s presentation, click here and to go to any of the fantastic events lined up, vivist any of the links below: