A HELENSBURGH cancer survivor and his wife are celebrating a major milestone this year, as they mark five years since the end of his treatment.

Iain Kerr, 63, found out he had bowel cancer in January 2014, just three months after moving home to Scotland to retire with wife Wendy, now 62.

Five years on he is determined to make every moment count, and recently trekked through the Andes in Peru to see the famous Inca citadel, Macchu Pichu.

In the week where World Cancer Day was supported by millions across the globe, Iain’s experience is driving him to back Cancer Research UK’s ‘Right Now’ campaign and call on people in Helensburgh to get involved.

Iain said: “We wanted to make a fresh start when we finished work, and so we moved to Helensburgh in October 2013. We registered with the local GP, and within a fortnight the bowel screening test came through the letterbox.

“Following the test, surprisingly, both Wendy and I were called for a colonoscopy – Wendy on January 6, 2014, and me on January 20. They told Wendy she had a polyp which would probably be benign, but I was worried in case they were wrong.”

He continued: “I didn’t even give a thought to my own test. But when I saw the nurses’ faces change and they turned the screen away from me, I knew there could be something seriously wrong. They took me into a room and the doctor told me I had a tumour in my lower bowel. We were devastated.”

Surgery to remove Iain’s tumour was scheduled for February 21, 2014. His consultant at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley made the unusual decision to do a ‘two-for-one’ and operate to remove Wendy’s polyp on the same day, so that she would be well enough to look after Iain as he recovered.

Following the surgery to remove his tumour, Iain underwent a bowel resection and temporary ileostomy on March 26, 2014, via a specialised surgical procedure that was performed in Scotland for the first time.

Expecting chemotherapy to be the next step, he was stunned when his consultant told him he wouldn’t need any further treatment, and his ileostomy reversal was scheduled for September that year.

Iain said: “For the first time ever in my life, I was speechless.”

WATCH: Iain Kerr describes how research saved his life.

Now he and Wendy are welcoming a multi-million pound project, spearheaded by scientists at Glasgow’s Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, that could revolutionise treatment for people with bowel cancer.

Dr Andrew Campbell and Professor Owen Sansom will lead a joint UK and European project with around £5 million funding from Cancer Research UK and two of Europe’s leading cancer research charities to help find better treatments for the disease.

Iain added: “I was lucky enough to avoid chemotherapy, but not everyone is as fortunate as I was.

"If this research can provide a range of treatments that will meet the individual needs of patients with bowel cancer, and provide more options for them, that can only be a good thing.

“I’m so grateful for the treatment that saved my life and that’s why I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of the power of research in beating the disease.

"I hope people are motivated to show their support and help save the lives of more people like me.”