Scott's story: why I'm backing Decembeard

Scott, 36, from South Ockenden, Essex, is one of the national ambassadors for Decembeard and is featured in the Me, My Beard and Why photographic exhibition, which was unveiled at this year's campaign launch event. Here, he shares his bowel cancer story:

In 2007 I was decidedly average, I was married, I had a full time job and a reasonable social life. After a change in bowel habits and a visit to my doctor I was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis and then shortly after told I had bowel cancer and required a major operation to remove my entire large intestine to remove the cancer but also leaving me with a stoma/Ileostomy.

At 28 this was a complete shock and, before I had an opportunity to come to terms with this life- changing news, I was in hospital for my life-saving operation. I was soon discharged. My operation was deemed 'successful'. My normal life had changed forever. The next five years were tough, with check-ups and the constant worry the cancer hadn't been contained and had spread. I reached my five-year all clear.

A few years ago, after dealing with some lows in my battle with bowel cancer and becoming an Ostomist (someone with an ostomy bag), I decided for the first time in my life I would get fit. I began trail running. Someone then mentioned a local OCR race (Nuclear Races). I then decided to enter this race and raise some awareness for bowel cancer and my relationship with Beating Bowel Cancer began.

I have since competed in over 30 races. Personally I have been involved in Decembeard for the last three years and have the honour of being asked to be one of Decembeard's 2015 ambassadors.

Growing a beard is a very visual change and often sparks a conversation, 'why are you growing a beard?' This allows us to share some of the shocking statistics such as every 15 minutes someone loses their battle with bowel cancer. Yet 90% of all bowel cancer diagnoses can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.

You may think these are just random statistics, But they are statistics that I owe my life to. I was a 90% statistic. I was diagnosed early enough that after my life-saving operation I survived. I beat bowel cancer.

So why grow a beard? Why help raise awareness? Why join me in the 2015 Decembeard campaign raising awareness and contributing to our £500k 2015 target? Because awareness of symptoms leads to more early diagnosis, early diagnosis saves lives. I should know it saved mine! "

Find out more or sign up for Decembeard here.

Scott's story was kindly provided by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.