Her pain had become unbearable

Bowel Cancer Australia

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“You need to do something, even if it is haemorrhoids I want something done, I can't continue living like this," Queenslander Jodie Elisara said, after multiple visits to three different GPs over several years.

Eight years after she first started to experience symptoms, her pain had become unbearable.

Despite repeated attempts to get a definitive diagnosis as to what was causing symptoms which ranged from rectal bleeding, low iron levels, and extreme pain when passing stools, Jodie did not receive a diagnostic colonoscopy until the bowel cancer she was living with had reached stage 3.

“Making diagnosis so difficult and lengthy worsens prognosis and impacts those diagnosed massively,” said Mrs Elisara in a speech she delivered to Queensland Parliament in June 2017, advocating for action to reduce colonoscopy wait times.

Concern over the growing public waiting lists for colonoscopies was highlighted on the ABC’s 7.30 in February 2017, after bowel cancer patient Margaret Parker waited 12 months for a colonoscopy in the public system before paying for one privately and discovering she had two bowel tumours.

“I don’t resent getting cancer,” Mrs Elisara said.

“What I am angry and disappointed about is the length of time it took for me to get my initial referral for a colonoscopy, then the delayed booking for my colonoscopy.

“Bowel cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers when detected early – but this opportunity was taken away from me,” said Mrs Elisara.

“I am here to ensure colonoscopy wait lists are talked about and actioned,” Mrs Elisara said as she concluded her speech to Parliament.

Running throughout the month of February, Bowel Cancer Australia’s 2018 Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late campaign is designed to raise awareness and help beat bowel cancer.

“Waiting months or even a year for a follow-up colonoscopy is unacceptable,” said Bowel Cancer Australia CEO Julien Wiggins.

“The total time between the first visit to a GP with symptoms of bowel cancer or a positive screen to diagnostic colonoscopy should be no more than 120 days.

“Diagnostic intervals greater than 120 days are associated with poorer clinical outcomes,” Mr Wiggins said.

If you feel your symptoms have not been taken seriously, seek a second opinion.

Remember, you should never be told you are “too young” to have bowel cancer.

See your GP immediately, if you experience any of the following symptoms suggestive of bowel cancer for two weeks or more:

  • Bowel cancer can often develop without any warning signs.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding;
  • A persistent change in bowel habit,
  • Abdominal pain especially if severe,
  • Unexplained weight loss.

If you have any bowel cancer questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact one of Bowel Cancer Australia’s friendly Bowel Care Nurses on 1800 555 494.

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