Our thanks to the Derby
Evening Telegraph for permission to reproduce the
||John Roberts considers
himself fortunate to have survived a rare genetic
condition which claimed the lives of both his mother
and his son. Doctors then discovered that he had
familial adenomatous polyposis. Natalie Murphy reports.
Family photographs in John Roberts'
living room show how much his relatives look alike despite
being generations apart.
Snaps of the 65-year-old as a boy and
photographs of his son, George, at about the same age
would be almost indistinguishable if it was not for
the clue of one of them being sepia-coloured.
But it is not just looks that run in
A genetic disorder claimed Mr Roberts'
mother, May, in 1970, when she was 59.
George died when he was just 12.
Mr Roberts and his brother also have
the condition, known as familial adenomatous polyposis.
"My mother died of cancer but
we didn't really know much about it at the time,"
said Mr Roberts, of Clinton Street, Derby.
"Then, in 1985, my brother, Edwin,
became ill and he was diagnosed with FAP.
"They put two and two together
and decided that's what my mother had.
"They looked at me and decided
I was clear at the time, but then, in 1992, my son,
George, became poorly. "He was six-and-a-half years
George needed to have a liver transplant
because of a complication with the disorder and the
bad news came as Mr Roberts himself was also diagnosed
as having the disorder, which causes polyps, or growths,
in the bowel.
He refused to have any treatment until
George recovered from his operation.
"I didn't even let them look at
me until he had his transplant and we knew he was well,"
George , pictured right, died from
liver cancer in 1998. "The transplant gave him
five good years," said Mr Roberts.
Although he felt healthy, Mr Roberts
faced a major operation in 1993 in a bid to prevent
him developing cancer.
"I had my bowel removed,"
explained Mr Roberts.
"If there have been two other
people in the family who have had these symptoms and
there are more than 100 polyps in the large bowel, there's
a 99.5 per cent chance of one of those polyps developing
into bowel cancer.
"It's likely to happen between
the ages of 25 and 40, so I was very lucky because I
wasn't found to have FAP until I was 52.
"I'm still being screened every
year for the bowel and every two years for the stomach.
Other than tiredness, I'm quite well with it but some
people have extra sets of teeth growing, spots on the
retina and bony growths."
Mr Roberts has now organised an information
day for other sufferers and their families. It takes
place on Saturday, March 31, at Swarkestone Sailing
Club and families from across the country will be attending.
"It's to give people with FAP
the chance to meet others which, in the past. has been
a rare opportunity," said Mr Roberts. "I don't
know anybody else within 10 miles, other than family,
with the condition".
Registration costs £5, including
lunch, and there will be a programme of speakers. For
more information, call Mr Roberts on 07730 144185.