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Bowel cancer campaign highlights impact on families


The dramatic impact of New Zealand’s second biggest cancer killer, bowel cancer, on families is the subject of a new, national awareness campaign launching today.

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 how important it is that bowel cancer is discussed more widely in our 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 (Mele) – also to bowel cancer. Now 67, he 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 jr. Rachel says that her parents’ diagnoses, so close together and with such different outcomes, highlighted just how prevalent bowel cancer is.

In New Zealand, Pacific and Māori 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 on 1 August and will run for the entire month.


Bowel Cancer New Zealand encourages open discussion about bowel cancer with medical professionals and avoiding ‘sitting on your symptoms’. Symptoms include:
• Bleeding from the bottom or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion;
• Change of bowel motions over several weeks that can come and go;
• Persistent or periodic severe pain the abdomen;
• A lump or mass in the abdomen;
• Tiredness and loss of weight for no particular reason;
• Anaemia.
About Bowel Cancer New Zealand
• Bowel Cancer New Zealand is a patient and family-led charity organisation.
• The registered charity was founded in 2010 by a group of people affected by bowel cancer, committed to improving bowel cancer awareness and outcomes for people with the disease.
• Bowel Cancer New Zealand aims to provide clear and up-to-date information about the disease, symptoms, what to do if diagnosed and to support patients and families affected by bowel cancer.
• The ultimate aim of Bowel Cancer New Zealand is to prevent lives being lost to this disease and to promote the national screening program rollout in New Zealand.

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