"In March 2023, after countless arguments with my wife and adult children, I presented to our local ED with lower abdominal pain. After further investigation this abdominal pain turned into something much worse, Stage 4 bowel cancer with metastasis to my liver and spine.
I'm Richard, 53 and as a stereotypical Aussie bloke I felt that by having to relent to medical intervention that this was a sign of weakness. I mean, I hadn't seen my GP for over a decade, played and coached sport my whole life, ate well and hadn't drunk any alcohol for 6 years. Healthy right? No, couldn't be further from the truth.
Facts, other than the abdominal pain I showed little signs of any disease. I did have some weight loss and fatigue, but I put this down to age and lifestyle. Bowel movements were normal, so I went about my day to day routine and ignored or managed the pain with paracetamol and Ibuprofen.
I made two major flaws, I ignored my body, and I disregarded the free bowel screening test, not once but twice. Twice I had tossed the free test into my bedside draws. They still sit there today as a testament to my ignorance and naivety to think I could be anything but healthy.
The sad truth to my ignorance is that not only has my life changed but that of my wife, four children, eight beautiful grandchildren, family and friends. They have all had to see me go through major surgery and the fortnightly chemotherapy treatments which can leave me a little rough around the edges.
The saying, ‘change is sometimes good’ has never rung truer in my eyes because now I get to advocate for bowel cancer awareness and through wonderful groups like Bowel Cancer Australia, I can make a difference in many lives and hope to change the mentality that I had and think that I'm invincible.
This December Bowel Cancer Australia are running their Decembeard | Decembhair campaign to raise awareness and funds for Australia's second deadliest cancer killer. By simply letting it grow or letting it go you can help support those living with or beyond bowel cancer. I'm in but I guess by looking at my ugly mug you might have guessed." ~ Richard.

Join Richard this Decembeard and sign-up here to be bold for bowel cancer. Grow, dye, shave or decorate your beard to raise awareness and funds for Bowel Cancer Australia this December.