Bowel Cancer Australia

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Around 300 Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer every week and it remains Australia’s second deadliest cancer. Bowel Cancer Australia is a 100% community-funded national charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We are committed to championing what matters most to people affected by bowel cancer and determined to have an everlasting impact where no Australian dies from bowel cancer and all those diagnosed receive the support they need. Bowel Cancer Australia was named Best Small Charity of the Year 2019 at the national Third Sector Awards in recognition of its contribution to the third sector in a meaningful and impactful way that produces measurable benefits.

We are raising funds for: Bowel Cancer Australia’s 2022 Dry July team is raising funds to expand the charity’s integrated Bowel Care Nurse pilot program, enabling more patients to receive dedicated support from a local Bowel Care Nurse.

A Bowel Care Nurse is a registered nurse who has specialist knowledge and experience caring for patients with bowel cancer. Serving as a patient’s main point of contact during and beyond cancer treatment, supporting and communicating with the patient and their loved ones.

These dedicated Bowel Care Nurses help to improve bowel cancer outcomes in their communities by enabling patients to take a more active role in their bowel care treatment.

Making sure patients and their families understand their options and receive the critical support they need – from that initial point of diagnosis all the way through their treatment pathway.

Despite being the third most diagnosed cancer, bowel cancer patients don’t receive the same level of support as other common cancers.

Every bowel cancer patient deserves to have access to a dedicated Bowel Care Nurse.

Latest Updates

Jessica's Story

I was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 Rectal cancer in December 2020. This is my second bowel cancer diagnosis; I was also diagnosed with Stage 1 in 2012.

Nothing prepares you for that feeling of being completely overwhelmed with the fear of what is to come. Will I be alive long enough to watch my son grow up? Will I be on chemo for life? Will I ever get to remission?

Cancer during a pandemic adds another level to the treatment. I spent over 50 days in hospital over the past 12 months, mostly alone due to restrictions.

Many times, I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, the treatment was brutal on my body and my mind. I had surgery complications, went into menopause and now have lasting side effects from the treatment.

But I did it! I made it to the other side of treatment. Three surgeries (including bowel resection, ileostomy and reversal, and removal of adrenal gland and ovaries), six weeks of chemo/radiation, 12 rounds of chemotherapy and a bout of shingles later, I am in remission.

When I look back on what my body and mind went through, I still can’t believe I was able to get through it all.

I am so thankful that my amazing surgeon and oncologist were totally invested in not only treating me with the hope of cure, but to try and still give me a great quality of life.

Cancer can be a very lonely experience, especially during a pandemic. I am so thankful to have had the team from Bowel Cancer Australia checking in on me during both my cancer experiences in 2012 and again in 2020/2021. The practical support of a nurse and nutritionist who understand the impacts of treatment on your life and the Peer-to-Peer Support Network which put me in touch with others in similar situations, really helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.

Since my last surgery, things have progressed well. That’s not to say my life is back to normal, but I am here, I am in remission, and I’m going to try and live my life in the present. I’m enjoying time with my family and friends and trying to make the most of everyday. I will not let my cancer define me!

Bowel Cancer Australia can further expand their Bowel Care Nurse and Nutritionist Programs

Despite being the third most diagnosed cancer, bowel cancer patients don’t receive the same level of support as other common cancers.

Described as a 'lifeline' by patients and their loved ones, Bowel Cancer Australia’s telenursing and telenutrition services are addressing this gap, enabling equity of access to personalised care and tailored support nationwide.

Since 2010, Bowel Cancer Australia’s Bowel Care Nurses and Nutritionists have been offering support for patients and loved ones through the charity’s Helpline and Peer-to-Peer Support Network.

Thanks to the continued support of the Dry July Foundation, Bowel Cancer Australia has been able to further expand our Bowel Care Nurse and Nutritionist Programs. Increasing the capacity of our Patient Services team, to meet the growing demand for these vital services.

Serving as a constant, dedicated point of contact for the many bowel cancer patients who utilise the charity’s telenursing service nationwide, Bowel Cancer Australia’s Bowel Care Nurses offer support during and after treatment. As well as assisting patients, family, friends, and concerned members of the community by answering questions about bowel symptoms, treatment options, or how to support a loved one affected by the disease.

“Bowel cancer patients are often faced with unique challenges and their journey can vary greatly from other cancers. Leading many to believe they have ‘the wrong cancer’,” says Bowel Care Nurse Tammy.

People affected by bowel cancer face multiple nutritional challenges, including being unsure about what to eat, diarrhoea, appetite loss, and changes to taste and smell.

Yet they receive little or no nutritional information following diagnosis and treatment.

Bowel Cancer Australia’s uniquely qualified Bowel Care Nutritionists, help to address that need by providing guidance that’s practical, sustainable and evidence based.

“A diagnosis of bowel cancer will involve a change to diet and lifestyle and your new bowel habit might be hard to come to terms with,” says Bowel Care Nutritionist Janet.

"Families, friends and carers also require support and practical advice to assist in meal preparation when caring for a bowel cancer patient," Janet adds.

So as to provide further cancer-focused support to the growing number of Australians affected by bowel cancer, Bowel Cancer Australia is currently recruiting for Australia’s first dedicated Bowel Care Oncology Social Worker.

This unique new role will help to reduce anxiety and distress, and increase feelings of hope and empowerment, by assisting bowel cancer patients in learning new ways of coping, providing practical information about available resources in their community, and improving communication with their medical team and loved ones.

Bowel Cancer Australia’s integrated Bowel Care Nursing program continues to expand, supporting the employment of dedicated part-time Bowel Care Nurses in regional communities across the country. Acting as a key point of contact for bowel cancer patients and their families as they navigate the health system in their local area – providing advice, education, support and direct patient care.

“Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer, but when detected early 99 per cent of cases can be successfully treated. We need to be at the forefront of that treatment, helping ensure clients get the best possible care,” says Sunshine Coast Bowel Care Nurse Kirsty.

Thanks to the Dry July Foundation’s support Bowel Cancer Australia can put more bowel cancer patients and loved ones in touch with a Bowel Care Nurse or Nutritionist, where they can receive specialist support from Tammy, Janet, Kirsty or one of the team.

No one need go through bowel cancer alone.

Francesca's Story

I was diagnosed with Stage III bowel cancer at the age of 38.

I honestly didn’t know anything about bowel cancer before I was diagnosed. I’ve since been told it’s ‘an old man’s disease’ which I now know not to be the case with about 1400 people under 50 diagnosed with bowel cancer in Australia every year. The individual circumstances of each person’s diagnosis also mean everyone has a very different experience of how they are treated.

When I contacted Bowel Cancer Australia’s free Helpline, I had an instant connection with the Bowel Care Nurses and Nutritionists.

They’ve been a constant source of strength and encouragement ever since – helping me manage nutritional challenges, nerve damage, and an emotional roller coaster.

Cancer turned my world upside down. Diagnosis, treatment, and recovery have been a lot to process against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Without Bowel Cancer Australia, my whole situation would have been a lot harder and lonelier.

Their support and resources made my experience so much more manageable and less frightening.

Head here to read more of Francesca's Story. 

Dry July fundraising helps Bowel Cancer Australia employ Australia's first dedicated Bowel Cancer Care Oncology Social Worker

Your fundraising for Dry July will enable Bowel Cancer Australia to expand the charity’s Bowel Care Nurse and Bowel Care Nutritionist programs, and to employ Australia's first dedicated Bowel Cancer Care Oncology Social Worker.

During the height of the pandemic last year, Bowel Cancer Australia received a 68% spike in enquiries to our free Helpline. Described as lifeline, these vital Bowel Care Nurse and Nutritionist services are needed now more now than ever.

The addition of a Bowel Cancer Care Oncology Social Worker to the team will provide further cancer-focused support. Helping to reduce anxiety and distress, and increase feelings of hope and empowerment, by assisting patients in learning new ways of coping, providing practical information about available resources in their community, and improving communication with their medical team and loved ones.

Our Bowel Care Advisory Team is only a phone call away, on 1800 555 494 or email. The Helpline is free and provides an extra layer of support to bowel cancer patients and their loved ones. Free comprehensive online bowel cancer support resources can also be found on our Support for You webpage.

Diana's Story

“My sister Sarah was 34 and a new mum when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and 35 when it took her life. She experienced three weeks of stomach pains before she was given a terminal diagnosis and 18 months to live. She started treatment immediately and lost her battle 10.5 months later.

Sadly, her story is not unique. The rates of bowel cancer in adults under 50 have been rising, and young-onset patients are more likely to be diagnosed in Stage 3 or 4 when the disease is harder to treat.

My family has always been very close and losing Sarah to bowel cancer was absolutely devastating for us. It had a huge impact on my life. At 29 I gave up a job, ended a relationship, and moved states to help care for Sarah and her daughter, Eliza, who was only five months old when she was diagnosed. It was incredibly painful to watch her endure treatment after treatment until there were no options left.

No individual or family should have to endure what we did, and it is Bowel Cancer Australia's mission to have an everlasting impact where no Australian dies from bowel cancer and all those diagnosed receive the support they need. Everyone thinks that it will not happen to them until it does.

Whilst I think it is hugely important to talk about life beyond cancer, it is also important to talk to those who face a terminal diagnosis at a young age, their carers and loved ones.

Please support Bowel Cancer Australia this Dry July and donate what you can to raise vital funds for people affected by bowel cancer, who need us now, more than ever.” ~ Diana.

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