by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Rotarian Ken Haines spoke with Rebekah on 5THE FM this week about Bowel Screening advising all people to be aware of bowel habits and take advantage of Rotary Bowel Screening month. Early detection is the key with bowel cancer. Last year 300 people in postcode 5280 returned their kits and so far over 150 kits have been returned t his year. Ken said that statistics prove that bowel cancer is a real killer with one person dying every 2 hours from bowel cancer. One person dies every 5 hours from road accidents, one person dies every 4 hours from breast cancer. Australia has the second highest rate of bowel cancer in the world.
Ken told the story of one family’s journey with bowel cancer, as told by Kimberly Rice, who has given us permission to print it on wattlerangenow. This is an amazing story and very appropriate for Rotary Bowel Screening month.
This is Kimberley’s story – “Take the Kit.”
These three simple but important words could save your life. This is my story. When I was thirteen years old my Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. My Mum was 47 years old. At this point in time we didn’t even know what the bowel was and could not comprehend the word cancer. My mother had experienced lower abdominal pain and a change in bowel habit. Following consultation with her local general practitioner she underwent further investigations. A barium enema (x-ray of the large intestine) and colonoscopy (visual examination of the large bowel) confirmed a bowel cancer. Mum was referred to a colorectal surgeon and stomal therapist in preparation for surgery. The surgery was successful with the sigmoid section of the large bowel being removed. The results indicated an early stage bowel cancer requiring no further intervention. This was almost twenty years ago and Mum is now considered cured. This was such a relief. During this time the surgeon said that a family history of bowel cancer increases your chances and that my brother and I would require regular investigations. I must admit this was something I was not looking forward to undertaking and was immediately put to the back of my mind.
Three years later our lives would change forever. My Dad had worked for Australia Post for 44years which kept him very fit and active as bicycles were the mode of transport for mail delivery. He was always a person helping and giving to others. He retired from mail delivery and worked in the area of parcel delivery. Towards the end of 1998 he had noticed bleeding when he used his bowels, loss of appetite and weight loss. He said that it was nothing to worry about and probably just haemorrhoids. My Dad continued working until he became very unwell and went to his local general practitioner. Further investigations showed that Dad had a bowel cancer requiring immediate surgery. Unfortunately my Dad’s bowel cancer had metastasised and he passed away two weeks later. My Dad was only 61 years old. I never want anyone to go through what we experienced as a family.
This experience was the catalyst that has lead me into the career I have today. I currently work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the theatre at St John of God Hospital (Geelong). In this role I assist with colonoscopy and bowel cancer surgical interventions every day. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing I was able to make a difference in a persons’ life. Especially if the story involved a person undertaking the bowelscan kit, receiving a positive result, undergoing surgery and results indicating that the cancer had not spread. This makes my job very rewarding.
In my position I’m always seeking ways to empower people and emphasise how bowel cancer can affect everybody both directly and indirectly. An email was sent out last year seeking volunteers to assist with the testing of the Bowelscan Kit. Bowelscan is a Community Health Awareness program run by Rotary Districts and clubs throughout Australia and supported by Australian Rotary Health. I couldn’t wait to get involved and consider the holistic experience of the person’s journey. Volunteers from Rotary clubs and the general public work with pathologist closely as a team to test the kits. A peroxide solution is instilled onto the samples and analysed for a blue colour change. If blue is detected the kit is considered positive and indicates that the bowel motion sample contains traces of blood. I want to emphasise that the person does not automatically have a bowel cancer. There a many causes for blood being present in stool. A positive result means that the person needs to have further investigations through there general practitioner.
Local Pharmacies sell and collect the Bowelscan kits as a community service . The kit comes with very clear instructions regarding foods to avoid prior and during the sample taking. The kit is simple, non-invasive and can be undertaken in the comfort of your own home. Following testing, a letter is sent to the person indicating a positive or negative result and then they become a part of the database to be reminded of future testing. Your general practitioner is notified of a positive result. The bowelscan test should be taken every year.
I want to educate and empower everyone the importance of bowel cancer awareness. Your bowels are an important part of the digestive tract and I don’t want people to feel embarrassed when talking about this important organ. Bowel cancer is preventable and together we can make a difference.
If you notice a change in bowel habit, bleeding, abdominal pain, weight loss or loss of appetite don’t ignore. Seek further assistance from your general practitioner. An important screening test that is available to you right now is the bowelscan kit. One simple smear could save your life.
Kits cost $10.00 and are available at Millicent Chemist and Giftware, Glen Street Pharmacy and Beachport Pharmacy and must be returned by Friday 19th June 2015.