Can­cer — don’t sit on it

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

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

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