Wednesday, 17 June 2020
I stand to support and raise awareness for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. More importantly, today is Red Apple Day. This is about raising awareness about bowel cancer. We know that so many people are frightened to take the test, so for people over the age of 50 the federal government provides a free test every two years to keep people safe. That's because we know that people feel icky about doing the test for bowel cancer. But we know that if people increased their use of the test we would decrease deaths from bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in Australia, unfortunately. It can affect every age, although people over the age of 50 are more likely to be affected. So people who have changes in their bowel habit or bleeding should go and see their doctor to get a test, because it's so important and it can save lives. Every year 15,000 Australians develop bowel cancer, and unfortunately 5,000 of those will die. But if you get the cancer diagnosed early you're more likely to survive. This week alone, Bowel Cancer Awareness Week, unfortunately 300 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer.
There are many different personal stories to bowel cancer. I have met so many people whose relatives, their mother, father, daughter, sister, their brother or son, have died from bowel cancer. It affects so many thousands of Australians each year. In my office alone I have a staff member, Donna, who has become a bowel cancer ambassador. She is a busy professional mother with children. She developed symptoms. She started bleeding and didn't do anything about it. It took her a number of months to get organised enough, not because she's not someone who cares about her health, but she was caring for children, she had a job, and she just didn't get around to it. Luckily, she is one of those very fortunate people who got diagnosed with bowel cancer that could be treated. Luckily that's 90 per cent of people with bowel cancer. She had extensive treatment and surgery, including radiotherapy. She says herself that if she had been diagnosed earlier she wouldn't have had to have such extensive surgery. That's the thing she would like to raise awareness about. She was able to get treatment and she's now cured. So it's a great good news story, but she would like to raise awareness, because just by getting the home test kit that is sent out every year to millions of Australians, we help to save lives. I would encourage people to acknowledge that Red Apple Day is a day to look after your health—to make sure that you eat well, that you exercise well, keep your alcohol intake down, try not to smoke or give up smoking—because cancer is a dreadful disease and it affects so many people around the world. Cancer killed my mother prematurely. It's a dreadful disease and we really want to make sure that people stay safe, fit and healthy.