I have always been an avid historian and had taken a keen interest in genealogy.
I was tracing my family tree and endeavouring to find out where I came from and details about my ancestors (occupations, where they lived, how they died etc).
I found that bowel cancer popped up frequently. My grandfather had passed away from it in 1978. Two cousins had been diagnosed in their 50's.
I noticed that my own bowel habits had changed slightly. I had only just turned 40 so I wasn't overly concerned, but the words 'bowel cancer' were stuck in my head.
I spoke to my GP and he said that given my age it was unlikely I would have bowel cancer, but given my family history it was possible. He supported my decision when I asked for a colonoscopy.
After the colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer. I had a total colectomy and then 12 cycles of chemotherapy. I now have regular colonoscopies and will continue to do so.
I feel as though this journey has changed me in ways that I could never have imagined. I have always been active in my community but this has motivated me to speak publicly about my own situation.
I encourage others to be tested and hold an annual fundraiser to support research through Bowel Cancer Australia.
I don't ever want anyone to ever have to go through what I did unnecessarily.
I have received volunteer acknowledgement awards and also Citizen of the Year for my work in the community.
I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and tell people to check their bums :)