Do you have any history of bowel cancer in your family?
Yes, I have an extensive family history although I did not know at the time it was all bowel cancer. My dad died at the age of 47 and my brother died from bowel cancer at the age of 29. I knew it was a genetic risk but I didn’t understand about Lynch Syndrome and the cancer risk.
How did having a bowel cancer diagnosis affect you and your family?
It was a big shock. The kids were little so we made a decision not to tell them everything. My wife didn’t really change, just kept doing all the things she usually did. I had many complications with my surgery and it turned into a 2 year ordeal. The temporary colostomy was confronting and a challenge but I found support from the ostomy suppliers. I had never heard of a colostomy before then.
How did you get involved with Cancer Connect and why?
I received a letter in the mail from Cancer Council Victoria informing me of a Lynch Syndrome information day and decided to go along. At the meeting I saw a Cancer Connect brochure and decided to apply. I felt like I wanted an opportunity to pay it forward and I thought “I can do that”.
What do you enjoy about being a Cancer Connect volunteer?
If I can be an inspiration to someone, then I’m happy. One guy said “Wow I want to be like you”. The topics I usually cover when talking to people range from coping with chemo, colostomy management and Lynch Syndrome.
What would you say to people who get the bowel screening kit?
Bowel cancer is a lot more common than you think. It’s really a huge risk if you do not take the test. It’s a small price to pay and it is far easier than having a colonoscopy or bowel surgery.
To find out more about Cancer Connect, or Gene Connect - a peer support program available for people with an identified cancer risk gene - call us on: 13 11 20 or email: Cancer.Connect@cancervic.org.au
Cancer Council Victoria’s support programs for people with bowel cancer
Cancer Council Victoria offers different programs for people depending on whether they are currently receiving treatment, or have moved to the recovery phase. Our Cancer Support Groups provide an opportunity for people affected by cancer to meet for discussions in an emotionally supportive environment. To find out more about our Cancer Support Groups, visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancer Council Victoria also offers tumour specific Living with Cancer Education Programs. These free programs are held locally at health services across Victoria and provide useful skills and helpful information, empowering those affected by cancer. To find out more, visit the webpage, or to view a list of scheduled programs.