In 2020 my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. She had been suffering digestive issues for years and had blood in her stool for months but had been told by her GP that it was only haemorrhoids. Mum had received her screening kit from the NBCSP when she was 50 but had ignored it.

The GP recognised she had low iron levels but rather than perform further tests she was given transfusions. After seeing a gastroenterologist she had a colonoscopy that showed the cancer. She underwent a bowel resection and began chemotherapy. Scans showed it had spread from her bowel with small spots in her lungs and liver. These were not deemed as operable.

This was all in the midst of caring for my father who was diagnosed with MND in 2019. In 2021, my father passed away in June and my grandmother (her mother) in July. This was difficult for the family and with COVID added to the mix meant mum missed several rounds of chemo. Sadly, her health went downhill dramatically when her liver ducts became blocked with several surgeries not helping.

In November 2021 she sadly passed. Just days before she passed my sister found out she was expecting her first child and was thankfully able to tell her.

I am currently studying Public Health on my journey to become an Occupational Therapist and I am shocked by the statistics around bowel cancer. I am passionate about educating people on the risk factors of bowel cancer and the important role of early detection.

Bowel cancer devastates families unnecessarily. Through encouraging healthy lifestyles and improving uptake of early detection, bowel cancer can become less deadly.