Hi. I’m Chelsea, and a couple of years ago I had surgery and chemo for bowel cancer.
This year, Bowel Cancer NZ asked me to become a community ambassador. I want to use the opportunity to make a difference for younger adults by raising awareness of the rising epidemic of this disease in people well under 50. So, I asked those brave young people you see in our campaign photography to help me, and this Never Too Young campaign was born.
Life was trucking along beautifully in August 2015. I’d established my own business, our children were moving out of the challenging infant stage, and we were taking a break in Wanaka to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday.
I was 39, fit, healthy and bullet-proof. And then I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer.
My own story would have been very different if a Wellington woman hadn’t publicly shared her story. Diagnosed in her 30s, with minor symptoms, her article rang a bell with me and spurred me to visit my GP. I was fortunate that my doctor acted quickly, and through my health insurance, I was in for surgery the following week. Six months of intensive chemotherapy followed, and I’m now in the clear, thanks to Trisha telling her story.
The news is not so good for hundreds of younger adults in New Zealand every year. “You’re too young, too healthy, too fit,” is often the catch cry, and many have symptoms for months or years before being diagnosed with advanced Bowel Cancer.
This disease kills nearly as many young New Zealanders as the road toll, and as many people as both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Why? Lack of awareness and the sometimes-awkward nature of the conversation leads to late diagnosis. Many patients don’t know they have Bowel Cancer until it’s too late.
With the support of my good friend Tania Biddles at Q Brand Agency, we are determined to change this.