A FORMER Bolton mayor and a long serving councillor is urging people not to ignore the bowel testing kit sent to them after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Cllr Martin Donaghy is now raising awareness of the cancer after his shock diagnosis.

The 62-year-old said: "I was sent a screening kit when I turned 60 ­— I didn't fill it in, I know, I didn't send it back because I was too busy.

"When that kit comes please just do it, do not shove it behind the clock, do not put it on the mantle piece do it and its an easy test to do, once its done post it.

"They will contact you one way or another and at least it gives you peace of mind."

The ward councillor for Tonge with the Haulgh said the first he noticed something was wrong was he started "feeling under the weather".

"I started experiencing pain in my lower body, " he said, "I noticed a change in my toilet habits , the shape of stools, blood in my stools and pain.

"Once that happened I went to see my GP and she immediately said she was going to refer me to the colorectal unit at the Royal Bolton Hospital ­— I was seen within two weeks."

Cllr Donaghy who has been a local authority councillor for 26 years, serving 18 of those in Daubhill, underwent a number of tests at the Royal Bolton Hospital, Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan and The Christie Hospital.

He is now under the care of The Christie Hospital and is preparing to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"The prognosis is that this can be treated, ­— and it is treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. So I about to start that."

Cllr Donaghy added: "Initially it is a shock and then you realise it is a challenge and you realise that there is no point in moping and moaning about its, the fact of the matter is you have to get on with it and get the treatment done and hope it gets treated successfully."

The councillor, who works in the town centre Sainsbury's supermarket, will have 28 sessions of radiotherapy and three weeks of chemotherapy.

He said: "From my GP Dr Lyon at Lever Chambers and partners right up to Dr Alam consultant, I have so much praise for the doctors and our amazing NHS, which in the space of five weeks have got me from a place where I did know what was wrong with me to a place where I do know what is wrong with me ­— and I going to be treated."

Cllr Donaghy says he is speaking about his diagnosis to help others.

"There will be people who when read this will think I will go and get tested, I want people to be encouraged by this, and not to be afraid. Get yourself tested," he said, "To anyone who experiences any of these symptoms do not be afraid go to your GP and get the referral and get the help that you need, because sooner it is treated then the greater the chance of successful treatment.

"No one knows your body like you and you know instinctively if there something is wrong, once you feel that go to the GP immediately

"The GPs are there to help."

He praised the Macmillan team for being on hand to answer questions and provide support.

"I'm, very fortunate that I have a good circle of friends and have got a good family, but you have to think of the person who may be alone, who may be frightened who may be unsure, that person is the person who should go to Macmillan to ask for help and they will give them the help, support and encouragement they need.

"No one has to fight this alone."

Cllr Donaghy said: "I'm feeling great, I would like to pay tribute to my ward colleagues Nick Peel and Elaine Sherrington and honorary Alderman Frank White, who have run me back and forth to the hospital whenever I have needed to go for any of my appointments, nothing has been too much trouble for them ."