Often because there is a common misconception that bowel cancer only affects older people and also because many of the other bowel cancer patients they encounter during treatment are older.
Parents with young children, people just starting out in their career, singles, university students and newly-weds – younger bowel cancer patients can quite often be in a different life stage to those diagnosed at an older age.
Having a child diagnosed with bowel cancer can also be very difficult.
The ability to talk with others who know what you are going through can be very helpful, and that is what Bowel Cancer Australia's Peer-to-Peer Network is all about – connecting people living with or beyond bowel cancer and loved ones with others in a similar situation.
Following their diagnoses with young-onset bowel cancer, James Ricci, Steve Paul and Geoff Kidd contacted Bowel Cancer Australia for information and support.
Upon joining the charity’s Peer-to-Peer Support Network, Jamie, Steve and Geoff were connected through Bowel Cancer Australia’s Buddy Program – a unique service whereby patients or relatives offer support to each other throughout their bowel cancer journey (on the phone, by email or face to face); listen to individual concerns and share experiences (including treatment, side effects, coping strategies and life beyond bowel cancer).
Jamie's #Never2Young Story
In April 2015, 5 weeks after my son was born, I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.
My doctor misdiagnosed me saying I was too healthy and young to have cancer.
But because my son had just been born I thought it was best to go for a colonoscopy where they found a 4cm tumour in my rectum.
18 months later after 19 weeks of chemotherapy, 7 weeks of radiotherapy, 22 weeks with a colostomy bag and 2 surgeries, I feel better than ever.
After so many dark days I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever be able to feel this good.
So, no matter how hard things may get, try and stay positive and focused, and hold on to hope.
You are all a reminder of how much good there is still left in the world.
Knowing what you do now, having been through bowel cancer yourself, what would be the one piece of advice you would give to other young people?
Steve’s #Never2Young Advice
I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t think it was that serious, but I knew something wasn’t quite right.
I started to have irregular bowel habits, my appetite was off, I was having sporadic stomach pain and the odd instance of night sweats, waking up soaking. My doctor considered an allergy, a reaction to medication, and IBS, I even had a stool sample taken which came back negative.
After persisting for another seven months I had a “just to rule it out” colonoscopy where they found a 12cm tumour.
You can tell when things aren’t quite right, when they're still not right a month or two later, persist and rule out the obvious, get a colonoscopy and put your mind at ease. It doesn’t hurt to check!
Geoff’s #Never2Young Advice
Listen to your body. Bowel cancer is known as the silent killer, often resulting in it being diagnosed at an advanced stage. If something doesn’t seem right and persists for more than a week, get it checked. Don’t let embarrassment cost you your life.
The other thing is that it is not an old person’s disease. This year a fellow the same age as me died from bowel cancer and there is at least another 3 people in my city (that I know of) who are around the same age and have been diagnosed.
You can read the inspiring Bowel Cancer Stories from Geoff, Jamie, Steve and many other young bowel cancer patients and their loved ones on our Bowel Cancer Stories webpage.
For further details on Bowel Cancer Australia’s Peer-to-Peer Support Network and Buddy Program visit Bowel Cancer Australia's Peer to Peer Network page.