CANCER survivors have shared their deeply personal stories in a bid to convince locals to take a simple – and potentially life-saving – test.
Speaking alongside surgeons and representatives from the NSW Cancer Council and Rotary at a launch of the 2014 Bowel Scan program in Tamworth yesterday, the survivors delivered a powerful plea to residents to confront bowel cancer head on.
The new-generation Bowel Scan kits, available now from local pharmacies, play a critical role in the early detection of the deadly cancer. “Like most blokes, I thought I didn’t need to do the test, even though my father died of cancer,” Tamworth survivor Barry Burnett said.
“But my wife was so insistent she gave me a kit for Valentine’s Day in 1995 and I’m fortunate to still be here today because of it.”
Another survivor, Helen Frankel, said she was a “blubbering mess” when her test came back positive.
She was forced to undergo a life-saving procedure to have 30cm of her bowel removed but said it was far better than the alternative.
“I’m just so grateful,” she said.
Earlier, Shaen Fraser from the NSW Cancer Council told the crowd Australia had the highest incidence of bowel cancer in the world, with a person dying from the disease every two hours.
“It can be prevented if you are proactive about your health and screen regularly,” Ms Fraser said.
She said if detected early, up to 90 per cent of bowel cancers could be treated successfully.
Tamworth surgeon Dr Phil Kennedy said alterations in normal bowel habits, rectal bleeding, anaemia or abdominal pain could all be early symptoms of the disease.