Like many people, I thought bowel cancer was an older person's disease and despite a family history of the disease, didn't think I needed to worry about it just yet.
I had been experiencing some discomfort since walking the Kokoda track nine months earlier, but I was busy with parliamentary commitments and looking after my family, and just couldn't seem to find the time to have the required medical tests to determine the cause. I made the big mistake of putting my health last, instead of it being a top priority.
If I had not found the time when I did, the prognosis could have been very different.
I required surgery of over seven hours to remove an aggressive, localised cancer followed by a six-month course of chemotherapy. I am now privileged to have made a full recovery.
I am passionate about raising awareness. If I can help to save one life by spreading the messages about looking after your health and the importance of early detection, then that's a good thing.
Bowels may not be the most appealing topic of conversation, but it is a conversation we need to have. Make a vow to talk bowel!
I am now a proud Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador, and enjoy highlighting the important ongoing work required to raise community awareness about this largely preventable and treatable disease.
Bowel Cancer... You're Never Too Young
Launched in 2014, Bowel Cancer Australia’s ‘Bowel Cancer... You're Never Too Young’ initiative was created to provide bowel cancer resources uniquely designed for younger people.
Offering practical and emotional support for the growing number of young people affected by bowel cancer (and their loved ones), championing what matters most to people living with or beyond young-onset bowel cancer, while challenging perceptions through dynamic campaigning that raises awareness and motivates action in all young Australians.
A highlight of the initiative is Never Too Young Awareness Week - a dedicated week during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month that highlights the unique challenges faced by people who are living with or beyond young-onset bowel cancer.
For further details and to become a #Never2Young Champion head to nevertooyoung.org.au