Chris’s message to others: “Screening can save your life.”

Cancer Council NSW

Chris knows the importance of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – because he credits it with saving his life.

Chris did his first screening test in 2017, after letting the kit sit on the shelf for a year, and then a second one in 2018. Both were negative.

In 2020, Chris did his third screening test, which came back positive. His doctor sent him for a colonoscopy, where they found a tumour in his lower bowel and diagnosed him with stage 3 bowel cancer.

The diagnosis came as a shock, as he hadn’t experienced any real symptoms. “Or maybe I did,” he reflects. “My stools changed, but I never had pain or blood or anything like that.”

Focusing on the future post-treatment

In January 2021, Chris had a bowel resection surgery, followed by chemotherapy treatment.

“The public system was just fantastic,” he says. “I got into a trial – which you can’t do at private hospitals – to see whether I had any trace elements of my tumour in my blood. Luckily I didn’t, which meant I only needed six cycles of chemotherapy, not 12.”

With treatment now finished, Chris’s health is being monitored via regular blood tests and CT scans. Now, he can turn his attention to living life to the fullest, spending time with his grandchildren, who live nearby.

He’s also gotten back on his beloved bike.

“I’ve been riding my bike for 10 years. I just do cycling for life, you know – it makes you feel good.”

Turning to others in his time of need

Chris is grateful for the support he received from friends and family. As a psychologist, he’s never had trouble opening up to other people, but he wonders if other men going through cancer find it as easy.

“You can see it everywhere in masculine culture,” he says. “I feel sorry for blokey blokes, who might find it harder to talk about what they’re going through.”

Chris’s overwhelming feeling, though, is of luck.

“Cancer really does make you think about life. It helps you clarify what’s important. I always think I’m really lucky – bowel cancer isn’t a rare cancer nowadays. I asked my surgeon how many bowel resections he’s done, and he said, ‘Too many’,” Chris reflects.

Sharing his experience with others

Now Chris is focused on helping other people avoid going through what he has.

“I’m happy to do whatever I can to help. I always tell people to do the test. One of my friends doesn’t want to do it because of the yuckiness, and I just say to him, “What the hell are you doing?” It’s so simple – and it could save your life, like it’s saved mine.”

Aged 50-74? Every two years you are sent a free bowel screening test kit to do at home. If found early, more than 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.

If you have not received a kit, or if it is damaged, misplaced or expired, you can order a free replacement kit by calling the National Cancer Screening Register on 1800 627 701.

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