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Local legends promote bowel health in Rugby Southland clubs

Friday 12 July, 2019

Southland Rugby is helping promote the importance of bowel health to its 32 clubs and 6000 members, by sharing a message from two of the region’s favourite rugby legends.

Former All Black, Leicester Rutledge, and former Southland player, Lex Chisholm (Chis), champion the Southern DHB’s National Bowel Screening Programme. The Programme is free for those aged 60-74 who are eligible for publicly-funded health care.

Flyers featuring the dynamic duo have been placed prominently in all of Southland Rugby’s clubrooms, and contain information and advice about maintaining bowel health, such as healthy eating, symptoms to see a doctor about, and the screening programme itself.

Rugby Southland Marketing Coordinator, Jack King, says the organisation is proud to promote the importance of healthy habits.

“Even though the rugby season is coming to an end, it’s important to keep the conversation going in our clubs. Rugby Southland has over 6000 members, those being players, coaches and administrators who all volunteer their time to the sport we love,” he says. “It’s important to us that we are doing our bit to keep their mental and physical wellbeing front of mind. And it’s great that Rugby Southland can follow in the footsteps of local champions, Lex and Leicester, who are lending their support to the cause as well.”

Lex Chisholm knows first-hand the pain bowel cancer can cause individuals and families.

“My father had bowel cancer,” he says. “He did nothing about his health, my father. Unless he cut his finger off, he wouldn’t get anything checked out. He died of cancer within six months. He was in excruciating agony but he was too scared to go to the doctor.”

Leicester Rutledge has previously had cancer himself, and is a strong advocate of bowel screening.

“I’ve got nine grandchildren and I want to be around when they get married,” he says. “If this test is going to prolong and advance my life – well, I’m into it.”

The Southern DHB’s National Bowel Screening Programme has now been running for just over a year. As at the end of April 2019, it has detected 68 cases of bowel cancer and 737 cases of polyps, which can develop into cancer over time.

According to the Ministry of Health, people diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer who receive treatment early, have a 90% chance of long-term survival.

The National Bowel Screening Programme is now live in Waitemata, Counties-Manukau, Lakes, Hawkes Bay, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Nelson-Marlborough and Southern DHBs. It is due to go live in Canterbury in May 2020, South Canterbury in June 2020, and West Coast in 2020/21.

For more information about the programme, visit or freephone 0800 924 432.


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