Urging others to talk about bowel cancer

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Michelle Smith wants to talk about poo.
It is not a subject that everyone wants to discuss, but a change in your bowel habits might be be a sign something is not right.
Mrs Smith is taking part in Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s Move your Butt campaign in honour of her father, who died of bowel cancer in 2015 when he was 66.
‘‘He was diagnosed probably about three weeks before he died.’’
The family ‘‘pondered’’ about why he had not gone to the doctor sooner.
‘‘Even though I’m a nurse and I’m his daughter he really didn’t give us lots of information.’’
Every case was different, but Mrs Smith encouraged people ‘‘to tell someone’’ if they felt something was not right with their health.
If someone felt uncomfortable telling a family member, they could tell their GP, she said, ‘‘because they are going to do right by you and get you the right treatment.’’
A change in bowel habits could be a clue something was not right, she said.
It was important to encourage people that it was ‘‘OK to talk about your poos with your GP or your nurse’’.
If there was a family history of bowel cancer, Mrs Smith encouraged people to speak to a health professional.
‘‘I’ve encouraged my brothers to get checked.’’
Bowel Cancer New Zealand general manager Rebekah Heal said the Move your Butt campaign was running for the month of June.
‘‘This new campaign encourages all New Zealanders to get off their butts and challenge themselves to move more, as exercising and eating well are proven to help beat bowel cancer.’’
No-one liked to talk about bowel cancer, but it killed as many New Zealanders as breast and prostate cancer combined, she said.
‘‘During June alone, 100 Kiwis will die and a further 250 will be diagnosed. It’s a national emergency and it’s important that New Zealanders are aware of the signs and symptoms and most importantly, how to prevent it.’’
‘‘So this June, we are aiming to get all Kiwis off the couch and moving more — even if it’s just a 10-minute walk a day.’’
For the Move your Butt campaign, Mrs Smith said she would ‘‘get out on my bike’’.
‘‘It is good mentally for me as a nurse toget out and do exercise after a busy day.’’
To donate, visit moveyourbutt2019.everydayhero.com/nz/beat­bowel-cancer-2