My cancer story: branch secretary encourages members to ‘listen to their body’

“I didn’t want to know the percentages or the odds - all I wanted to know was what the next hurdle would be.”

In a candid interview, secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation Roger Webb has spoken about being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer this year as he shares his story by way of encouraging members to ‘listen to their body’ and ‘seek advice’ if they feel anything abnormal. 

The 56-year-old father to two teenage girls was given the news that he had bowel cancer in March. He has since undergone a serious seven-hour-long operation and four stints of chemotherapy.

He was told in May that the cancer had spread to his liver. However, following intensive chemotherapy, Roger was given the news that he is now ‘cancer-free’ at the beginning of August.

Understandably in shock and disbelief, Roger admits he is still ‘coming to terms’ and ‘making sense’ of the news, having experienced a rollercoaster of emotions over the past five months.


Roger Webb and his family smile at the camera

Roger and his family 


“I didn’t have any symptoms at first and I’d even passed a bowel cancer screening in January 2023 - now I know, I was one of the very few that receive an inaccurate test,” said Roger, who has been in the secretary role since 2018 having been a workplace representative since 2011.

“Looking back though, there were definite signs that something wasn’t quite right. For example, I would regularly feel bloated - which was quite out of character for me. I was periodically taking indigestion tablets.”

At the end of February, Roger started to suffer from severe stomach pains and within days he was vomiting, causing him to go to A&E where he actually collapsed and was admitted.


“I immediately underwent a whole host of scans, x-rays and examinations,” recalled Roger.

“I was then told on Friday 2 March that my colon was virtually blocked.  Furthermore, I required an emergency operation, which took place the following day and lasted seven-and-a-half hours.

The operation involved removing 15cm of Roger’s colon, and spleen, as it was in the way. He also had a temporary stoma bag fitted, which is set to be removed and the colostomy reversed in spring next year. 

“I had 32 staples running up my tummy,” said Roger, who was then told by the surgeon that he had advanced cancer. 


A scar showing 20 or more stitches up the middle of a man's stomach

Roger had 32 staples inserted


He added: “All I remember was being in severe pain. I think, mentally, I’ve blocked a lot of the detail and emotions out.”

After 14 days, Roger was discharged from hospital and - despite advice from the surgeon and physiotherapists - was back walking two to three kilometres within weeks of the operation.

“I refused a wheelchair and instead, insisted on walking,” he said.

“Getting home was the best medicine but it was definitely hard dealing with the physical and mental impact of both the operation and diagnosis. Especially the stoma bag - coming to terms with that was difficult.”

It took time for Roger to ‘normalise his eating’ again, as he began to learn what his new body could best cope with. 


On 5 May, Roger started his first stint of chemotherapy, each cycle being three weeks long. 

Remarkably, despite the chemotherapy, Roger reveals how he continued to exercise up to three times a week - his way of ‘keeping positive’.

“I needed to keep moving for the sake of my mind,” he continued.

“I also worked when I could too. For me, I needed that focus. I needed that normality. For some reason, one of the things I focussed on was the school run. The school run became very important to me - I think it was the routine I liked. I just wanted to be ‘Rog’ again.

“Of course, I had dark days but I’m a very positive person - and they were rare. My wife, Toni, was of course outstanding throughout the whole thing. She only told me to ‘buck up’ twice, and I admit, I deserved it, both times.”

Following his first chemotherapy cycle, Roger was told the cancer had spread to his liver, but this could not be operated on until after he had completed all four rounds of treatment. Worse still, on returning home from the consultation he tested positive for Covid-19 which really hit his body hard.

“Once we had covered all four rounds of chemotherapy, I went to see my consultant to discuss the next steps. It was then that he told me my scan results had come back all clear,” Roger said.

Still in shock

“I had a real out-of-body experience. I’m still in shock today. I think I’d set myself up for the operation - mentally.”

Roger was told he was ‘cancer-free’ on 3 August - and celebrated by taking Toni and their daughters to their favourite cafe for pancakes and a full Welsh breakfast.

On 4 August, five months to the day since that first operation, Roger returned back to work. 

He continued: “I am certain, that having a positive mindset - as well as the chemotherapy - got me through this. And that’s just me. I know everyone handles life differently, but my way was to remain positive.”

Roger still needs to have regular check-ups over the next two years but for now, he is focusing on getting his head around the past five months, as he looks forward to a much-needed family holiday.

“Both the Force and Federation have been amazing. From my colleagues at the Fed to the chief. After a few days, my team visited me in the hospital and looked after Toni, as well as ensured the girls were OK,” Roger said.

Respite break

“Police Mutual also provided a voucher for us to have a respite break which we are taking on our anniversary in November.”

Now, Roger is urging members to ‘listen to their bodies’ and ‘go to the doctor if something does not feel right’.

“The reality is, I’ve had stage four cancer. And, although I don’t regret anything, I’ve learnt from my experience and I want to pass that on to others. Had I gone to see my doctor a year before and raised my concerns about a few uncharacteristic signs, I feel, it would have only been stage two,” said Roger.

“Prior to my illness, I was extremely conscious of what I ate and trained regularly, to me this proves it can happen to anyone. The message I have taken from this, is the fitter you are puts you in a better place to deal with unexpected health issues such as this. 

“And to be honest, there was a point that I was thinking, will I even be putting up the Christmas decorations with my family this year?’ After all, you never know what’s around the corner.”

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