Don’t let the silence about bowel cancer kill you

Journalist Stephanie Kay says she had a taboo cancer - one no one wanted to talk about.
Journalist Stephanie Kay says she had a taboo cancer - one no one wanted to talk about. Robyne Cuerel

RECENTLY 296 Australians who have lived, or are currently living, with bowel cancer completed an online questionnaire from Bowel Cancer Australia.

I was one of them and the results are just as shocking as the statistics that already exist for Australia's second biggest cancer killer.

Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer feel like they have the wrong cancer due to a lack of support and poor awareness.

I found this to be true.

I had a taboo cancer, one no one wanted to talk about.

People don't talk about poo at the dinner table.

It's one many people believe only exists in elderly gentlemen and as woman in my early 20s, I didn't fit the mould.

Even for those who do "fit the mould" it's not easy when your guts are trying to kill you and nobody wants to hear about it.

One in 12 people will be affected in their lifetime.

The patient survey found more than four out of five (81%) bowel cancer patients felt the general public didn't understand their cancer.

Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins said awareness and support services for bowel cancer patients were inadequate considering the heavy burden of the disease.

"Arguably, the biggest issue in the battle against bowel cancer is silence," he said.

"Bowel cancer kills the conversation and sadly it kills many Australians too.

"So, we're asking people to take action to help raise awareness of bowel cancer and if it's something that has affected you, to let people know.

"Bowel cancer is largely preventable and treatable but it's hard to protect yourself against a cancer that no one is talking about.

"People don't hear much about bowel cancer despite almost 15,000 Australians being diagnosed with it every year."

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month runs from June 1 to June 30 and I'm asking you to take action and speak up.

The message from Bowel Cancer Australia is prevent, detect and connect and they are holding a confidential dial-in day on June 5.

Topics:  bowel cancer stephanie kay survey

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