In 2010, Mareea Salter was eagerly anticipating her upcoming 50th birthday. She was feeling good and looking forward to the coming year. But within a few months Mareea’s life had taken a different direction, one that if you asked her today, she did not see coming.
Shortly following Mareea’s birthday, she received an invitation and kit from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to participate in a test called the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which detects small amounts of blood in the bowel motion. Mareea popped the kit into a drawer for another day. A few weeks later she received a reminder letter to complete the test. Following a prompt from her husband, she decided to take out the kit and complete the required process.
Despite showing no symptoms, Mareea received a positive bowel cancer diagnosis and subsequently underwent six months of chemotherapy. Her surgeon informed her that if she had waited another 12 months, it may have been too late for her, as the cancer had already started to spread outside the bowel.
During her treatment, Mareea received overwhelming support from family, friends and her workplace.
“I was overwhelmed with the love and support from those around me and without them I don’t think I would have coped as well as I did. I also had to be strong for my family, especially for my husband.”
Three years later Mareea is feeling well and ensures that she has regular checkups.
“I would strongly recommend everyone participate in this simple test. If I hadn’t, I may not be here today.”
Mareea is now an advocate for bowel cancer screening and many of her family and work colleagues have participated in screening as a result of her story.
Finding cancer early saves lives – bowel cancer screening
Around 453 Tasmanians are diagnosed with bowel cancer yearly, with over three Tasmanians losing their battle with the disease each week. Yet this tragic loss of life and the devastating effects that bowel cancer has on families can be significantly reduced through early detection.
Tasmanians in apparently good health may have an early-stage bowel cancer that could be caught early through screening before it becomes life-threatening
Cancer Council Australia’s Australian Cancer Network Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer, which are endorsed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), recommend organised bowel cancer screening, performed at least once every two years for the Australian population over 50 years of age.
Currently, the government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) offers free bowel cancer screening kits to eligible Australians turning 50, 55, 60 and 65 years of age.
If you are offered the free bowel cancer screening kit, please take up the government’s offer. Screening for bowel cancer is easy and if found early the chances of successfully treating are very high. Using the kit could save your life.
Bowel cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Your most effective protection is to participate in screening; keep active; maintain a healthy weight; eat for health; limit red meat intake to three to four times a week; limit or avoid alcohol; and quit smoking.
If you’re over 50 and currently ineligible for the NBCSP, ask your doctor about appropriate bowel cancer screening for you.
For more information about the NBCSP, visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au or call 1800 118 868.