Former Liberal MP Donna Hope (Bauer) thrived in the cut and thrust of local and then state politics, however a personal health challenge has provided new direction for her campaigning skills.
She has taken up the role of a Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador after her own experience of bowel cancer last year highlighted the important ongoing work required to raise community awareness about this largely preventable and treatable disease.
At just 43 years of age, the busy mother of four and elected member for the seat of Carrum in the Victorian Parliament was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Like many people, she thought bowel cancer was an older person's disease and despite a family history of the disease, didn't think she needed to worry about it just yet.
"I had been experiencing some discomfort since walking the Kokoda track nine months earlier, but I was busy with parliamentary commitments and looking after my family, and just couldn't seem to find the time to have the required medical tests to determine the cause," she said.
"If I had not found the time when I did, the prognosis could have been very different," she said.
Donna required surgery to remove an aggressive, localised cancer followed by a six-month course of chemotherapy and her future looks bright.
Despite the shock of a cancer diagnosis and the challenges of treatment, Donna continued in her role as a MP until losing the seat with the change of government.
Her high profile in the community however has already helped her raise both funds and awareness.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly about her personal battle to overcome bowel cancer, fines imposed on MPs by the Victorian Legislative Assembly totally close to $12,000 were donated to Bowel Cancer Australia that same year.
A Mother’s Day fundraiser at the Sandhurst Club, which Donna attended, also raised $2600 for the charity.
"I am passionate about raising awareness. If I can help to save one life by spreading the messages about looking after your health and the importance of early detection, then that's a good thing."
"Bowels may not be the most appealing topic of conversation, but it is a conversation we need to have. Make a vow to talk bowel," she said.
If you were inspired by Donna’s fundraising activities and would like to support Bowel Cancer Australia through a community fundraiser or event in your workplace get in touch with us on 02 9923 8269 or through our webform.
Both former Liberal MPs and bowel cancer survivors, Donna Hope and Margaret Fitzherbert, continue to advocate strongly for better reporting of colonoscopy wait-time data and recommendations that bowel cancer screening start at age 45, to deliver better health outcomes.
Donna served as a Councillor for the city of Kingston from 2008 and was elected Deputy Mayor in 2009 in recognition of her hard work and commitment to her local community. She was the Member for Carrum from 2010 - 2014.