May 6, 2019

Nigel Latta and his dog Riley

“We’re supposed to be very physical beings that go out and do stuff,” says Nigel Latta.

Nigel Latta, TV host, author and psychologist, is getting behind the Move your Butt challenge in June. Nigel says he exercises a lot anyway, so he’ll keep it up during June. “My father died of bowel cancer so the things that help prevent it are pretty much on my mind – like exercising and eating well. So I’ll do a bit more running and walking during June.”

“It’s annoying but exercise is good for you. Unfortunately lying on the couch watching Game of Thrones is not so good for you. Humans haven’t really evolved – most of human history was spent in different conditions, eating different food. We’re supposed to be very physical beings that go out and do stuff. These days, it’s too easy to be sedentary.”

Nigel’s Dad passed away around 16 years ago. “My Dad was a builder, so he was very physical, but he didn’t have the best of diets. He wasn’t really a fruit and vegetable man, more your classic ‘meat, potatoes and tinned peas’ Kiwi guy. And the trouble is, blokes tend to wait ages to get checks when stuff goes wrong. He finally got his symptoms checked out, but by then, things were looking pretty grim.”

Nigel says he’s 52 now (although still 32 in his mind) and has lost friends to various forms of cancer. “The thing is, once you’ve lost someone to cancer, it all becomes more real,” he says. “You can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s important to have those basic physical checks regularly, including bowel cancer checks. Science has created this stuff, so why not make the most of it?”

Nigel believes that making small changes in your life can make a difference. “The tragedy of bowel cancer is that it’s super-preventable. You can do some really simple things like eating better and exercising more – and importantly, drinking less alcohol. Alcohol should really have cancer warnings on the packs like cigarettes do. People don’t realise it, but alcohol can play a part in many types of cancer.

It’s also about finding an exercise that works for you –something that’s fun,” Nigel says. “Or get a dog –your dog will shame you into doing exercise.

Above all, if you get any symptoms of bowel cancer, don’t muck around-go and get a freakin’ check. Sure, colonoscopies are not the most pleasant thing, but you’re given great drugs and they’re very relaxing. And the prep gets easier after the first one. At least you come out and know that you’re okay.

When I think about all the stuff that my Dad’s missed out on – if only he’d had his symptoms checked sooner. Being alive is kind of okay – I’d like to do it for a while longer.”