Support Me
Sunday, 05 February 2012 07:35

This letter was received by Nick Lee of the Jodi Lee Foundation a few weeks ago, and he shared it with us over the weekend.  Please, please, get a kit from the chemist or order it online, and test yourself.  Bowel cancer is an insidious disease, with little symptoms until it is well advanced.  90 % of cases of bowel cancer can be cured.

"Dear Nick,


When I was offered a position to run for the Jodi Lee Foundation (JLF) in the New York City (NYC) Marathon, I could never have imagined I would be writing to you a letter such as this.


Early in April 2011 I was advised of an opportunity to run in the NYC Marathon for the JLF by my Auntie  (one of the 21 JLF runners). A day later I was formally offered a position by Nick Lee, where I immediately accepted and was very grateful and excited for the upcoming adventure. Little did I know at this stage what a profound impact this invitation and involvement with the JLF would have on my life.


From this date general preparations commenced such as training, travel arrangements and fundraising; and throughout the year the JLF maintained good communication on all these matters. Amongst the communications from the JLF was a request that as ambassadors for the foundation we would undertake a pharmacy available bowel screen test.


I was reluctant to conduct this test due to my age (at the time I was 28 years old) and my good health. Furthermore, I had not ever had any symptoms of bowel cancer and thought that doing the test would be unnecessary. However, commitment to the principles of the JLF and the underlying question of what if something was wrong prevailed and led me to complete the test in the middle of October.


The test results arrived on October 21st and read positive for showing blood in my stool. This came as a shock especially being only a couple of weeks until the race and overseas travel. I immediately contacted my Doctor (GP) and made an appointment prior to travel in an effort to calm my nerves.


My GP had reassured me that it was unlikely that anything was wrong but due to the positive result he had to refer me to a colorectal specialist where a surveillance colonoscopy would be likely. There was no immediate urgency for this to take place and so I made an appointment with the specialist in early December following the race and overseas travel.


Early in November I travelled to the United States of America and completed the NYC marathon in 4 hours 28 minutes and 41 seconds raising a total of $4,935 for the JLF. Sponsors included generous family, friends and work colleagues who were all more than happy to support such a great cause.


During my two week trip overseas my upcoming specialist appointment was far from my mind as I was enjoying the sights of NYC and Chicago with my girlfriend and having a great time. Running in the NYC marathon and being involved with the JLF was overall lots of fun and a great experience.


After returning to Australia on November 19th I met with a colorectal specialist in early December; who like my GP reassured me that it was unlikely anything was wrong. However, he explained the importance of undertaking a surveillance colonoscopy due to the positive result of the bowel screen test.


A colonoscopy procedure was conducted on December 22nd with the preparation routine and going under general anesthetic an unsettling experience.


For all concerned the results were expected to be all clear with no issues, this unfortunately was not the case.


To my shock, I was advised by the surgeon after the procedure that too many polyps had been found to be removed and counting had stopped at fifty, no cancer was identified, however eight polyps had been removed for biopsy and that it was likely that some of my lower bowel would have to be removed.


The following week I met with the surgeon to discuss the colonoscopy and the pathology results. The discussion was confronting and difficult to accept. In my lower bowel are up to 100 polyps of which some are common and some are a much less common polyp which are more likely to develop into bowel cancer in an accelerated manner. Amongst all the facts, research, pathology and discussion I was advised that the only course of action was to remove my lower bowel to prevent the highly likely chance of developing bowel cancer in the near future.


A second opinion was sought prior to new years eve where a conservative estimate was that I had a 50 to 100 percent chance of developing bowel cancer in my thirties and that due to the amount of polyps it was more likely to be closer to 100 percent. The advice was clear and the same as the surgeons, removal of the lower bowel was necessary to prevent bowel cancer.


I recently met again with the surgeon and on February13th I will have major surgery to remove my lower bowel. This operation will see me in St Andrews Hospital for approximately five days and recovering at home for at least one month.

I share my story with you Nick and the Jodi Lee Foundation as a way of saying thank you.


Thank you, for saving my life."



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Health News

This weeks links

The Cancer Council came out this week and announced that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that alcohol should be considered to be as carcinogenic as smoking and asbestos are.  As well as being highly associated with throat and mouth cancers, it is now found to correlate highly with breast and bowel cancers.  Perhaps it should not be so surprising that a substance that can so alter mood and ability, even at very mild levels should turn out to be in fact, not good for us.

This story, an editorial from the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year has some amazing targets - it ties in with our look at sitting and health, and is about developing healthcare systems that support exercise - recognise it as being as vital a measure of our health as is blood sugar levels or blood pressure.  It recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults as a minimum.  30 mins on 5 days.  For children, it is 420 mins / week - 60 minutes every day.  How close are you?

This is another article on inactivity / obesity and health from Sports Medicine Australia, highlighting the link between an inactive childhood and a lifetime of battling depression.  It is food for thought (!) these days where there seems to be much paranoia about safety of children away from their parents watchful eyes, and therefore a tendency to want to keep them closely under watch instead of encouraging more activity and indeed risk taking behaviours.  The ability to judge situations for risk and to be able to take appropriate risks builds self esteem and resilience.  Not much to do with bowel cancer awareness, but close to my heart as well.

Another article on sitting

This one is in really simple terms - if you walk 30 mins (as recommended) and sleep 8 hours, most of us still have 15.5 hours per day not moving.  You cannot sit all day behind a screen, then drive your car and sit and watch tv with out it being bad for you.  A good read.