IT is a disease that kills thousands, with many avoiding simple tests because they are too embarrassed.
Now one Edinburgh financial services worker has put together a pin-up calendar to show that when it comes to getting checked over for bowel cancer, the arguments are black and white.
Lorraine Duffy, a project manager with insurance company Royal London, brought together 11 male and female colleagues willing to strip off in the name of charity.
Proceeds from sales of the calendar will secure Ms Duffy’s place in this year’s London Marathon and be donated to the Bowel and Cancer Research group.
The 38-year-old said: “I was aware that there had been lots of charity calendars with naked women in them but I wanted to do something classier.
“I originally chatted about the idea with a colleague back in November but then got cold feet. It was only at the Christmas party last year, after everyone had a couple of glasses of wine, that I plucked up the courage to ask people and everyone was really enthusiastic.”
To ensure those invited stayed the course, Ms Duffy sent an e-mail to each colleague explaining why she was putting the calendar together. The strategy worked.
“I asked about 15 people in total but only a couple pulled out in the end,” she said. “Everyone was really supportive.”
Ms Duffy, whose aunt died of bowel cancer last year, said: “I want to get people talking about this type of cancer and that’s something people don’t tend to want to do.
“They talk about breast cancer and that sort of stuff all the time, but they shy away from talking about bowel cancer.”
Colleague Vince Macari, 48, of Fairmilehead, said: “Cancer research is cancer research and the fact it was bowel cancer did not make any difference to me.
“You are obviously a bit wary. Nobody had ever done anything like this before.”
Ms Duffy, who lives in Dunfermline with her four-year-old son, said the calendar can be pre-ordered and would be available to buy from next week.
“We had three photo shoots in all,” she said. “People were a bit nervous and embarrassed to start with, but I arranged for the girls to have their hair and nails done beforehand and I think that helped. Then when people saw the pictures they were really enthusiastic and that helped keep things relaxed.”
Deborah Gilbert, head of development at Bowel and Cancer Research, said: “For people like Lorraine to be doing this to raise the profile of bowel cancer is hugely significant.
“There’s a taboo which exists around bottoms and bowels, and particularly around their function, and if people do become aware of symptoms they tend to ignore them rather than do any thing.
“It’s through projects such as this that it’s brought to the front of people’s minds.”
Ms Duffy’s calendar will be available for purchase at www.ruthhillmanphotography.co.uk .