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Claire Jones
2nd Year
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7th Year

Fundraising For

Funds raised this Dry July will help expand the charity’s specialist Bowel Care Nurse program

About Us

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer, and the rates of early-onset bowel cancer (diagnosed under age 50) continue to rise. Bowel Cancer Australia is a 100% community-funded national charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care, so everyone affected by bowel cancer can live their best life.

For almost 25 years, Bowel Cancer Australia has been creating positive change across the care continuum and our impact continues to be felt nationwide, thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of our dedicated fundraisers and supporters.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to champion what matters most for the 153,000 Australians living with or beyond bowel cancer and their loved ones, and are determined to have an everlasting impact where no Australian dies from bowel cancer and all those diagnosed receive the support they need.

We are raising funds for: Bowel Cancer Australia’s 2024 Dry July team is raising funds to expand the charity’s specialist Bowel Care Nurse pilot program, enabling more patients to receive dedicated support from an in-person 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 point of contact for patients and their families as they navigate the health system – providing advice, education, support and direct patient care to the regional communities.

These specialist 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 specialist Bowel Care Nurse.

Latest Updates

Bridging the gaps in the patient journey

Grampians Health was delighted to welcome a new dedicated Bowel Care Nurse at Ballarat Base Hospital and St John of God Hospital Ballarat to support bowel cancer patients across the region and assist them in their treatment journey.

Providing care coordination, while identifying and bridging gaps in the patient journey, which has the potential to change outcomes within the region.

“During their treatment, local patients often meet with several different teams along the way, and navigating the information and appointments can be overwhelming at times. Having a centralised point of contact to provide clarity and reassurance has been warmly welcomed here at the service,” said Jaymee, specialist Bowel Care Nurse.

The funding for the Grampians region's dedicated Bowel Care Nurse position was made possible through Bowel Cancer Australia with the generous support of the Dry July Foundation.

Sarah's Story

I was 47 years old, working as a busy Psychiatrist, when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 sigmoid colon cancer out of the blue. My tumour was circumferential, so I didn’t experience any bowel symptoms. My eventual presentation was in fact due to liver capsule stretch from the extensive liver metastases.

It took a few weeks for me to be diagnosed as I was positive for Epstein Barr Virus, so my GP thought I had a viral hepatitis. This seemed to explain my deranged liver function tests, but over the weeks they deteriorated instead of improving. Liver ultrasound scan was normal, despite there being multiple liver metastases. It wasn’t until I had an MRI scan of my abdomen that the metastases were detected, along with a suspicious thickening in my sigmoid colon. My diagnosis was swiftly confirmed by colonoscopy and I found myself sitting in front of an Oncologist before I could process the news.

Since diagnosis in October 2023, I have had six rounds of chemotherapy, consisting of FOLFOXIRI with Bevacizumab. The response of my cancer has been miraculous. The disease in my liver has shrunk dramatically and is no longer metabolically active on PET scan. My primary tumour has also shrunk, and I am booked for a bowel resection in the near future. This is after my Oncologist initially said I was not a candidate for surgery as the cancer in the liver was so widespread.

I have had to stop working. I am filling my time with my beautiful family, physical fitness regimes, and learning to play the piano. Life is very different now. My medical team believe I will never be cured. If that is the case, I will live with this disease for as long as possible.

My one piece of advice for others: I am thankful every day that I have income protection insurance. I am the main earner for the family. I have 19-year-old twin sons. I had no risk factors for cancer, no family history and no personal medical history. However, cancer still happened and without my income protection we would be under huge financial stress.

I have learned to enjoy each day and feel truly blessed to be alive and to have access to such amazing medical treatment.

Bowel Cancer Australia have been an amazing support for me. I have joined The Movement, which is a Bowel Cancer Australia’s nurse moderated Facebook group. It is so important to link with others with similar issues, to be able to share advice and support. From this group I learnt about the benefits of icing to prevent peripheral neuropathy with one of the chemotherapy drugs, and was the first person in Townsville to use this, with great results so far.

There is another group called Mindful Movement which is all about encouraging us to move and exercise, which helps me to keep motivated on those difficult days.

I have had several sessions with Jo, the Bowel Care Nutritionist. She has helped me with my gut cramping, and to manage my post operative diet to minimise discomfort whilst optimising nutrition.

Bowel Cancer Australia are helping me get through this journey that none of us want to be on, and are an invaluable resource for people in my situation.

Bowel Cancer Australia is expanding its integrated Bowel Care Nurse pilot program thanks to Dry July funds

The program enables 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 point of contact for patients and their families as they navigate the health system – providing advice, education, support and direct patient care to the regional communities.

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.

Anthony's Story

I presented to my GP in July 2019 with a sudden and persistent change of bowel habits (basically some diarrhoea that hung around for a week or so).

Over the next three months, I had a few blood tests, a stool test, and a colonoscopy, after which I was met in recovery by the surgeon.

He told me he had found a mass in the bowel, and there were some query spots in the liver.

I was sent immediately for a CT scan and then sat in the same surgeon’s office, three days before turning 40, to be told I had Stage 4 metastatic bowel cancer.

Due to the 21 bi-lobar mets in my liver, I was told it was ‘unresectable’ and so I was to start palliative chemotherapy within three weeks.

One week later, in went the port-a-cath, and then one week after that I started chemotherapy – initially six rounds of FOLFOXIRI and then a re-scan to hopefully show a reduction.

My feelings in the initial few days after diagnosis were of sadness, anger, fear, embarrassment and a myriad of other things.

My 3-year-old daughter, who was blissfully unaware of how her life had changed, wrestled it all out of me and I made a conscious decision to give it everything I had to fight this disease.

I needed to understand bowel cancer, liver function and my intended chemo regime so I delved deep into a supportive and integrated oncology approach and researched exercise and nutrition in the bowel cancer space.

I played the ‘pleasant squeaky wheel’ at my appointments with the Oncologist and took control of what I could control.

Each fortnight the aim was to turn up to treatment in the best physical shape as possible. I exercised every single day; I even took in floor pedals while I was being infused - there is plenty of research supporting improved chemo delivery to the tumour cell during low to moderate cardio exercises during the time of infusion. It even helped my nausea!!

My job is a Fitness Coach teaching the Personal Trainer qualification, so this was right in my wheelhouse. I made immediate changes to my diet (no alcohol, no red meat, no processed meat, plant-based proteins, fermented foods, green leafy vegetables, Vit D supplements, and 3-4ltrs of water per day).

I made it to my 6th treatment and the re-scan still weighing the same amount and keeping most side effects at bay. (I found the lethargy and neuropathy the hardest). The scan showed enough of a reduction in most tumours that I was able to entertain surgery discussions.

After a few knock backs, in Feb 2020 I was given the go ahead for liver resection, recovery six weeks, bowel resection, recover six weeks then mop-up chemo - a path that I knew would be challenging but there was a chance of NED status at the end. Sign me up!

COVID arrived, and some logistical issues almost prevented surgery in April, but I got there. 75% of liver volume removed (right hepatectomy and cholecystectomy) and spent 3 days in ICU and 7 days on the ward. I then recovered (slowly) and at Week 3 I found a DVT around my port site so had to start 2 x day injections of blood thinner.

Recovery continued (still training every day) and I was back on the table after 7 weeks (in June 2020) for a low anterior bowel resection.

Once again, 3 days in ICU and 7 days on ward. It took 9 days for the bowels to start working and there was substantial liver ascites which kept me in hospital a little longer than expected.

After 6 weeks of recovery, I was back in for mop-up (only 5FU thankfully) as the neuropathy was in full swing and the feet and hands were mostly numb.

I coped quite well with the 6 rounds of mop-up before once again, sitting in the specialist office, 3 days before turning 41 to be told “we can’t see anything there, I think it’s all gone!”

What a ridiculous 365 days but geez I’ve learnt a lot through this experience.

I lasted 8 months of NED until it showed up again in my liver, and I was thrust back in to chemo again (FOLFOXIRI w/ MVASI) for 6 rounds and then underwent another liver resection in Oct 2021 this time lasting 9 months before it once again showed up in the liver. I've just completed 4 rounds of FOLFOX and am awaiting scan results (Sept 22) to make plans for another resection. The fact that it only seems to recur in the liver means we have a few extra options to discuss this time including the install of a HAI Pump for direct chemo delivery to the liver, and also some preliminary discussions around liver transplants. Watch this space!!

Here are my words of wisdom or tips and tricks if you like:

Don’t just ‘control what you can control’ - dominate it! I empowered myself with knowledge and built a strong supportive network around me.

Always go for 2nd opinions and be forthcoming with your Oncologist with this. It happens quite a lot - and knowing how quickly the cancer space is changing you want to make sure they are on their game!

I had created an internal ecosystem somehow that had allowed the cancer to thrive - Make wholesale changes to that environment (i.e., diet and gut biome) - it’s like taking a fish out of water.

Allow friends/family to help - you don’t have to fight this on your own - it will build stronger relationships, deepen connections and tap into an under-current of love, support that we normally don’t get access to - embrace that!

I will end by expressing my gratitude for the Bowel Cancer Australia website and Facebook group 'The Movement - Wellness Beyond Diagnosis', and many other online forums in the bowel cancer space.

It’s in those darker times I took solace in the fact that others where in this fight too, and I take great pride in being able to share my story to inspire others to keep fighting.

Not only are we survivors but we grow stronger each time we get knocked down - so here’s to getting knocked down, finding your feet (even though they are numb), and choosing to stride towards what life has in store! 

Darren's Story

Every cancer story’s different. Every experience varied. This is just one of many, but this time it’s mine and I’d like to share it.

A routine men’s health check followed by a colonoscopy chaser triggered a whirlwind that changed our lives forever. In a post-anaesthetic haze I woke to the poker face of my gastroenterologist. “That was quick” I thought. Momentarily forgetting I had been unconscious. But before I had time for the thought to become verbal his poker face lips began to move. “All went well with the procedure, but we did discover a lesion”. Right ... the fog of haze messing with my understanding I asked, “What does that mean”? ‘Cancer’ His one word reply swiftly clearing the anaesthetic haze... Right.​

Shock, disbelief, processing. That’s how it began. Three days later in the surgeon’s office a lower anterior resection was explained to me in in the kind of detail a high school science teacher sets out when the class is to dissect a frog. It was clear, graphic and confronting. The mechanics of a resection with the possibility of a stoma, surgical complications and dysfunctional bowel movement was like a slap across the face with a cold towel. A sobering sting. That’s when the craving for knowledge began.

No random googling – reputable sites only was my mantra – a difficult oath to stick to when your mind is swirling with doubts and questions. Then the beacon in the storm, Bowel Cancer Australia. A whole site dedicated to, as my mate of 30 years put it, bum problems. I was like a thirsty dog in a

wading pool. I read every story and all advice on the website. With a week until my surgery a phone appointment with the Bowel Care Nutritionist Janet, set me on a path that for me, has been revolutionary. Janet’s pre-op dietary advice and post op consultations, which I followed to the letter, spoke to my bowels. Over the next weeks there were a lot of conversations with my bowels. Like the lunar cycles followed by the first Australians every poop was charted and analysed for greater meaning. Immediately post-surgery the proximity of a toilet was my highest priority, together with sudocream and a spare pair of undies. But following the Bowel Cancer Australia low fibre diet wrangled my bowel into shape. Not overnight, but in a matter of weeks rather than months. An accompanying food diary provided accurate insight into what blocked the bowel and what stimulated a “poonami”. For me dairy was an instant race for the toilet. Then there was exercise - a buddy companion to nutrition. A 25% loss in muscle mass and strength had me walking whenever able, and on the weights (limited to 5KG post-surgery) as much as possible. I’d gone from pumping iron to pumping tin, but even the limited exercise regime increased my mobility exponentially. The combo of diet and exercise saw me released from hospital four days earlier than estimated and I was able to commence chemo two weeks ahead of the schedule.

Ah, chemo, or getting on the “juice” as we call it in our house. Initially I viewed it as poison – which is reasonable as it’s a derivative of mustard gas! Then, in the spirit of positivity I reframed it to the elixir of life ... settling more appropriately on The Juice. Though I often visualise the Folfox6 chemical cocktail as Dexter (from the TV Series) cruising my bodies blood vessels taking out bad dudes. There’s a lot to say about the chemo road and not enough room here – except that I’ve managed to lead a pretty regular life even on the Juice, working 10 out of the 14 days between my cycles.

My Top Ten Tips:

Seek out legitimate evidence-based info from reputable sources (like Bowel Cancer Australia).

Asks questions – lots of questions.

Cry and laugh as much as you want!

Access the many resources available – including Bowel Care Nutritionists and Bowel Care Nurses.

Accept the days and the symptoms will vary.

Good nutrition and exercise.

Listen to your body.

Join the Bowel Cancer Australia Facebook Group – great people great support.

Phone A Friend – try and find a cancer survivor support person you trust.

Speak your truth – don’t be afraid to revaluate your life or seek help or move forward in charge of your destiny as NO ONE except you knows what’s going on in your body or mind.

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