Ruth, Katanning

Bowel cancer champion

I think people tend to push illness away but it’s important to take stock every so often and think about whether your body still lets you do the things you used to.

Ruth’s story

Retired gliding instructor Ruth was enjoying life living on her 160 acre farm when she began noticing some unusual symptoms in 2010. She was experiencing lower abdominal pain, similar to period pain, even though she was in her late 70’s. She’d also noticed changes to her bowel movements and the need to go more regularly, though hadn’t seen any visible signs of blood. Her partner, a nurse, noticed the smell was suspect.

Ruth knew not to delay visiting her GP as it was clear something wasn’t right. Her GP initially treated her for pain and constipation, though eventually she had a colonoscopy in Narrogin, a scan in Albany and a formal bowel cancer diagnosis in Perth in December 2010. Ruth needed a bowel resection, a liver resection, ‘lots’ of chemotherapy and later, another liver resection. She feels very fortunate that the liver regenerates.

Ruth credits her partner and children for their support through the journey.

Ruth’s advice

‘Your body is what makes life possible and if it’s not performing then you’re not doing your job properly, so it pays to look after it’.

‘If you’re trying to push it to the back of your mind, don’t’.

‘Get it checked out’.

‘Insist on finding out what is it and listen to your body’.

‘Go the distance’.

‘Take note of things that aren’t quite right in your body and do something about it’.

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Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening kits are designed for people who don’t have any noticeable symptoms of bowel cancer.

If you don’t have any bowel cancer symptoms and you’re eligible, it is recommended you participate in the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for people aged 50-74.

If you do have possible bowel cancer symptoms, it’s recommend you see your doctor, clinic nurse or health worker without delay.

Remember, the earlier cancer is found, the better your chances of survival. So, make sure you participate in free screening at every opportunity and see your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms.