Cancer — don’t sit on it
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and this year Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ) has a nationwide campaign to say bowel cancer can strike at any age.
BCNZ general manager Rebekah Heal says the Never Too Young campaign aims to show people the importance of knowing the symptoms of bowel cancer.
“With the rising incidence of bowel cancer in young people, it’s now more important than ever that people go to their GPs immediately if they have concerns.”
Every year, more than 300 people under 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The aim of the campaign is to educate and raise awareness and reduce the number of people dying.
The campaign has been organised by BCNZ community ambassador Chelsea Halliwell in collaboration with Bowel Cancer New Zealand.
A young bowel cancer survivor herself, Chelsea came up with the idea after she noticed an increasing number of young people joining the online Bowel Cancer New Zealand patient support group.
“If you have symptoms, taking action quickly is so important — it’s because of this that I’m here today,” Chelsea says.
“I’m so fortunate I didn’t delay in going to my GP. Within a week I had a stage three bowel cancer diagnosis, and my surgeon told me another six months would have made a real difference to my chances of survival.”
Bowel Cancer New Zealand is a national charity raising awareness of bowel cancer, supporting patients and education in the community. Bowel Cancer Awareness month highlights the impact of the disease on the community and raises essential funds. BCNZ encourages open discussion about bowel cancer with medical professionals and avoiding ‘sitting on your symptoms’. Symptoms include:
• Bleeding from the bottom or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion.
• Change of bowel motions over several weeks that can come and go.
• Persistent or periodic severe pain the abdomen.
• A lump or mass in the abdomen.
• Tiredness and loss of weight for no particular reason.
• Anaemia Anyone with symptoms or a family history of bowel cancer should see their GP immediately. Those who don’t live in current DHB screening areas and want to check can talk to their GP or buy a commercially available bowel screening kit at participating Life or Unichem pharmacies.
More information at www.beatbowelcancer.org.nz or www.nevertooyoung.org.nz