Mile End charity makes bowel cancer the butt of its jokes

A bowel cancer charity is collecting toilet jokes as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the disease.

Mile End-based Bowel and Cancer Research wants people to upload jokes onto its website and will include the best offerings in a book.

The aim is to increase awareness of bowel cancer and raise money under the slogan “Make us laugh and kick bowel cancer up the arse”.

The idea came from bowel cancer patient Paul Reynolds who asked friends and colleagues to send him bottom jokes when he was undergoing treatment in a London hospital in 2008.

He said: “I asked everyone to keep me cheerful, so they sent jokes, pictures - even toilet paper. In the end, it wasn’t just about humour - each joke was a gift from a friend. The fact that someone wanted to say ‘I’m thinking of you’ helped me through the most difficult time of my life.”


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Now recovered, Paul hopes the What a Bummer joke book will sit in every loo in the land, helping to spread the message about bowel cancer which affects 38,000 people a year in the UK.

“I was extremely lucky and everything seems okay,” he added. “But the reality is that bowel cancer is something people don’t talk about.

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“It became clear to me that the challenge for the bowel cancer community is increasing awareness. That is especially important because early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death: one in two people die if diagnosed too late, but nine out of 10 survive if it’s caught early.

“If we can create a book which lives in the loo and makes people laugh, some of those messages about bowel cancer will get through - and at the most relevant time.”

Paul chose to support Bowel and Cancer Research, based at Queen Mary, University of London, because the charity carries out pioneering research.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “Bowel cancer needn’t be a killer if caught early. That’s why we wholeheartedly support Paul and are proud to have launched What a Bummer. We hope it will literally save lives.”

If you have a bottom joke to share, log on to www.whatabummer.org

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