My goal is to change the perception of bowel cancer

Bowel Cancer Australia

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On the 18th of February, outback runner Jenna Brook will begin her Running for Bums challenge, a 4500-kilometre journey that will take her from the South East Cape of Tasmania to the tip of Cape York in Queensland.

“While running more than 100 marathons in just 4 months is a daunting prospect, it is made somewhat easier by being in aid of Bowel Cancer Australia and helping to raise awareness of Australia's second biggest cancer killer along the way,” said Jenna.

“My goal is to change the perception of bowel cancer, start a conversation about poo, and put an end to the embarrassment and stigma that has plagued this cancer,” Jenna said.

“I have been so lucky to grow up in a family where bowel cancer and colonoscopies have been spoken about from an early age, with nothing more than a few laughs in good jest that someone has to spend the day by the toilet,” said Jenna.

“My grandad developed bowel cancer in his 70's and was very lucky to survive it."

“After that, my Dad started screening in his 40's with regular colonoscopies, and my siblings and I also started screening early."

“At 25, I was struggling with some abdominal issues and developed low iron levels, which was unusual for me," Jenna said.

“After speaking with my GP and alerting him to my family history of bowel cancer and bowel polyps, we decided that I would have a colonoscopy at the same time as my endoscopy, just to rule out anything sinister."

“I had 8 polyps removed at the time."

“While this number is more than expected in someone that age, by removing them they were no longer a risk," said Jenna.

“Since then I've been very vocal about understanding your risk of bowel cancer and knowing your family history."

“I've since had two more colonoscopies and another 6 polyps removed, which I am very glad to say will never have the chance to become cancer,” Jenna said.


Jenna hasn’t always been a runner – in fact, she has never really been a consistent one until this idea popped into her head.

“When it comes to Running for Bums I obviously could have done something a little less gruelling, but by doing something so huge and being so far out of my comfort zone I hope to be able to reach a wider audience with the bowel cancer message,” Jenna said.

Jenna had her first taste of endurance events in 2012 when she walked 435km across the Simpson Desert.

Since then, she has finished two 250km ultra marathons (walking) and had a crack at a few more just for good measure.

“While the training hasn't always been easy, it has been made a lot easier knowing that the run is something that is bigger than just me,” said Jenna.

“Living in Birdsville in Outback Queensland, the summer heat has forced me to rise at 3 am during the worst of the heat to get my runs finished before the sun rises."

“I'm most excited about starting the run in Tasmania because it's going to be cooler than Birdsville and I'll get to sleep in past 3 am which will be a delightful change,” said Jenna.

Along the way, Jenna will be raising awareness of bowel cancer in the communities that she passes through, as well as online through social media platforms.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia and Jenna wants that to change.

“With early detection, 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated, yet less than 40% are found early enough!” said Jenna.

“This is why knowing your family history and subsequent early detection is so important.”

“Not enough people have the conversation about bowel cancer, most likely because of embarrassment, and this needs to change,” Jenna said.

“I'm 100% confident that the run will save lives and that by doing so more and more people will start to talk openly about bowel cancer and share their own stories."

“It's already making an impact as friends and strangers alike tell me that they finally booked that colonoscopy, or that they're going to talk to their doctor, or they didn't throw away their bowel screen kit for once," Jenna said.

As someone who loves to be active and get outside, Jenna will also be spreading the message of how moving and keeping active can play an important role in reducing bowel cancer risk.

“So, if you see me out and about on the road, let’s talk about bums!” said Jenna.

Good luck, Jenna, from everyone at Bowel Cancer Australia!

To learn more, visit www.runningforbums.com.au 

To help Jenna reach her goal, you can donate at https://bcapersonalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/runningforbums 

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