Founder of luxury travel company and bowel cancer survivor Norman Peires has an open and candid attitude towards the disease he suffered. He believes that it is this approach that should be adopted in the UK.
Cancer Research has recently revealed that bowel cancer rates among men in the UK have ‘risen by nearly 30 per cent in the last 35 years, while women have seen an increase of only six per cent’. This is particularly distressing, given that bowel cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if it is discovered in its early stages. In fact, the NHS tells us that 90% of cases can be successfully treated if detected early enough. Unfortunately, bowel cancer manifests itself as a range of symptoms that people deem embarrassing, and 65-year-old South African businessman, Norman, says that “it’s such a funny subject; people don’t want to talk about it, they just suffer”. The disease can be very destructive if left to progress, and with an average of 44 people dying of bowel cancer each day in the UK, it’s so important that people open up to their doctors sooner rather than later.
Awareness surrounding bowel cancer is important, but it’s also important to know how to deal with life after the disease. 20 years ago, after chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Norman Peires went into remission. But his ordeal wasn’t quite over. Later on he made the life-changing decision to have a colostomy bag attached to his stomach to collect the waste products that would normally pass through his colon.
Some people might think of a colostomy bag as a dark reminder of their disease but Norman takes it all in his stride. “With the new fashion of low rise trousers, it would be nice if they could make the colostomy lower down, so I don’t have to look like Simon Cowell,” he laughs.
Norman found that having bowel cancer put everything in perspective for him. He was able to take a step back and look at a life from a different angle. He has learnt to enjoy the simple things.
He tells us how he feels now about the pressures of everyday life: “You realise you don’t have to be everywhere and you just want to stay home and watch Eastenders and University Challenge. What matters is family and friends.”
Although Norman does enjoy the simple moments, he and his wife Lorna have developed a thrill-seeking side. They have recently learnt to fly and are known to dabble in historic car racing.
Norman’s eyes light up as he tells us: “the biggest thrill is going round a race track, the speed and going to the edge”. This month, Norman and Lorna took part in the Rally for Heroes, a 50 mile car race in aid of military charity Help For Heroes, and they raised over £3,500 for the cause.
When the Peires’ aren’t behind the wheel of a rally car or helicopter they are avid skiers and tennis players. It is astonishing that, at 65 and having battled a horrific cancer, Norman is still vibrant, active and full of life. When we asked him about his love of outdoor activity he told us: “I find it refreshing, it gets the cobwebs out of your brain”.