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Maureen's bowel cancer story (diagnosed age 55, QLD)

When Maureen received a screening kit in the mail just after her 55th birthday, she had no reservations about doing the test.

“It was just too simple not to do. The test was hygienic, quick to complete and extremely straight-forward,” she said.

Just as well, because ultimately this unusual birthday present saved her life.  When the test returned a positive result, Maureen was not overly concerned as she had read in the accompanying booklet that the presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer.

In fact, the possibility of cancer was the furthest thing from her mind as just weeks before she had stopped work to enjoy some much needed time to herself.

Nevertheless, Maureen discussed her positive result with her doctor, who recommended she have a colonoscopy. Having lived an active, healthy lifestyle, Maureen was completely “stunned” when the colonoscopy revealed a large cancer within her bowel. “I had absolutely no reason to believe that there was anything wrong with me. I didn’t have any obvious symptoms and I felt as fit as a fiddle,” she said.

Once diagnosed, Maureen underwent surgery. She firmly believes the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program saved her life.

“Before my diagnosis, I wasn’t even aware of the dangers of bowel cancer and I had no idea that I was at risk. I was just so surprised,” she said.

“From the moment I received the call requesting that I make an appointment to discuss my at-home test results, the care I received was incredible. I was kept fully informed about my situation and treatment options.”

Maureen considers herself very lucky but delights in telling “every man and his dog” about the dangers of bowel cancer. “I even told my travel agent about my experience and how effective the screening program was. I called my relatives in England and warned them of their increased risk of developing bowel cancer given I was diagnosed just after my 55th birthday. It’s nice to think that my experience can work to educate and warn others of bowel cancer,” she said.

Maureen’s advice to those people who are reluctant to do the test when it arrives in the mail is simple - “don’t hesitate; do it now! As you can see from my experience, you don’t have to have symptoms to have a well-developed cancer.”

Maureen now looks forward to getting back into the garden, mastering the steps in her dance classes, and perfecting her accent in her German lessons. She says that all these things are possible simply because she made the effort to use the screening kit.

Maureen’s message to people is to do the test when it arrives as, “There is no time like the present to make your health a priority.”