I WAS convinced my number was up - and all because I was going to the toilet more regularly than the norm.

A swift colonoscopy discovered a tumour in my colon and I was on my own when the utterly devastating results were delivered by stern faced doctors at the old Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow. I had bowel cancer.

But it can be cured, I was told. "Has it spread?" I asked. They were not going to know until the results of a CT scan.

That was the longest few days of waiting of my life.

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I needed a taxi, paid for by the hospital, to get me home after that grim announcement and I could not stop the tears, all day. It was a tap that would not turn off.

As if that was not enough, there was the ordeal of telling loved ones that cold day in December, 2005 that it looked like it was all over for Martin Williams and this world.

I had to try somehow to compose myself as I called my wife to come home without letting on what had happened, as I wanted to talk in person.

I did not know for sure, of course, that it was all over, but it is cancer. It spreads. I was a goner. Or so I thought.

Then eventually the good news. It was one tumour and yes, it can be fought.

But why not give me all the news at once to save me those days of living hell?

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Well, that was not the most prominent thought in my mind at the time. I was in survival mode and I was going to make it as easy as possible for the magicians that work for the NHS to make this indiscrimatory illness vanish.

I had learnt on the day that I went to the GP with my toilet issues, that you tell them everything; that you are as important in diagnosis as they are.

The red flag went up when I happened to mention I had some dried blood in one poo a few weeks ago, but thought it might have been piles.

While I was coming to terms with the operation a friend's mother was diagnosed with cancer. Heartbreakingly, she was to die while I was still fighting.

What I was not prepared for is the abuse some people give to the NHS staff that were trying to cure people and in my experience it was on a daily basis. The trauma of this while trying to get over a serious operation was more distressing than the actual surgery.

It started while I was recuperating in a high dependency ward, and one family member was shouting about the way her loved one was being cared for.

But things got worse during the many days I spent in the Victoria general ward while recovering on morphine. There were troublemaking patients who seemed to take great joy on a daily basis of shouting, nay screaming and swearing, at the nurses.

It never stopped or so it seemed and this was no hallucination, but the torrent of bile was driving me crazy and was not assisting in escaping the hospital bed.

On one occasion, there was a huge commotion. Raised voices and shouts of "stop" came before one patient stormed out and I could see the intravenous cannula, used for delivering medication, still in his arm.

I heard it was a drug user that was, incredibly, happy to keep that, so that his particular substance of choice could be fed straight into the blood stream.

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What followed was six months of chemotherapy with a new drug called oxaliplatin which I was warned could mess with my nervous system.

My diary explained at the time: "The Beatson is giving me hardcore drugs to get rid of any cancer that might be left. It's like the worst hangover in the world with added deep fatigue.

"I am really upbeat about it. I have my moments of despair. But they are just moments when the effects just are so much that I cannot bear it.

"But we are talking about cure, thank god. It has been caught early. Earlier, certainly than my friend's mum who may well die while I am recovering."

Mine was a happy ending. I have long since had the all clear, unlike others.

It has made me a strong advocate of the NHS, even calling radio phone-ins when people I consider to be idiots appear to me to fail to appreciate the great work that our doctors and nurses do, fuelled by my experiences of health staff abuse while recuperating.

Could they do better? Of course. I could have been told all my news at once, so that I knew what I was dealing with.

Some support for the psychological after-effects of recovery would have been helpful.

I could have done without the junior doctor making six or seven attempts to stick a needle into an available vein.

I would have loved to have been in a ward where all hell was not breaking out all around me.

But I am alive to tell the tale, albeit it now feels like a bloody awful dream. And if it was not for our NHS, I would not be writing this right now.