Raising awareness for bowel cancer

Mary Bradley and her mother Vicky Austen. Image: Supplied.

A new national awareness campaign is launching today for New Zealand’s second biggest cancer killer, bowel cancer.

Following in the footsteps of last year’s ‘Never too young’ campaign, which focused on the increasing incidence of bowel cancer in New Zealand’s young adults, August’s ‘Bowel cancer can affect us all’ campaign highlights the impact of a diagnosis on two different families.

Mary Bradley was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the young age of 28, when her first child was only six months old.

Now, twelve years on and with three children, bowel cancer remains a big part of her story. Mary’s young boys all know about her life with cancer before they were born, and they know that their mum’s fast action when she noticed symptoms likely saved her life.

Mary, her boys, and her mother Vicky Austen agreed to take part in this campaign because they know it is important to discuss bowel cancer with the wider community. Vicky says she was shaken to the core when her daughter was diagnosed.

“Mary’s diagnosis with bowel cancer came as a complete shock to us all as she was so young! Thanks to a very proactive GP who referred her immediately for investigation and further aggressive surgery and chemotherapy under the public health system she is, thankfully, still with her family and friends today”.

When Patrick Loloma Afeaki was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year, he was still reeling from the loss of his wife, 63-year-old Edith-Mary – also to bowel cancer. Now 67, Patrick has the all clear, something he also puts down to early diagnosis.

Patrick features in the campaign alongside his daughter Rachel and two of his grandchildren Alekisanita and Patrick junior. Rachel says with her parents’ diagnoses being so close together and with such different outcomes, highlights just how prevalent bowel cancer is.

In New Zealand, Pacific and Maori people have the highest rates of bowel cancer death, and Patrick and Rachel feel strongly that their community needs to have a greater awareness of this disease.

This month’s ‘Bowel Cancer can affect us all’ campaign has been put together at no cost to Bowel Cancer New Zealand, thanks to the generosity of creative agencies and advertisers.

The campaign launches today and will run for the entire month.

Patrick Loloma Afeaki and his daughter Rachel. Image: Supplied.




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