KEN TONGUE doesn't look 82.
In fact, the former SAS soldier and fitness devotee reckons most people think he's years younger.
He's been a fitness nut most of his life, even earning the nickname "the Galloping Sergeant Major" for his regular runs during his army years.
But in spite of his good health, he took no chances when he started feeling a little weary earlier this year and his friends told him he looked thin.
Mr Tongue's doctor suggested a colonoscopy, which revealed he had the very early stages of an aggressive bowel cancer. He was fast-tracked for an MRI scan and then rushed to hospital. Within a week of his diagnosis, the Eumundi local was on the operating table. Today he is free of the cancer.
Mr Tongue has spoken about his experience to encourage others not to be afraid of health checks and, more importantly, follow closely any directions their doctor gave them.
He was asked to follow specific instructions in the days before the colonoscopy, which he said he followed "to the letter". He believes failure to follow those directions properly could have cost him his life.
"A small growth so easily could have been missed if it wasn't a clear bowel," he said.
Mr Tongue felt his life was spared as a consequence of his diligence, and he urged other men on the Sunshine Coast not to delay matters relating to their health.
"'She'll be right, mate' or 'I'll do it tomorrow' can be fatal," he said.
"Being fit is one thing, but also being aware when you need these operations...you don't just put it off for the next week, because the bowel cancer that I had was picked up by a clear bowel and operated on very quickly."
Mr Tongue's health scare meant he missed Anzac Day commemorations this year with his mates.
He said his diligence meant he would make up for it next year.
"I am now looking forward to the next Anzac Day with my friends - not in a hospital bed," he said.