When Forster-Tuncurry's Roz Dreise learned she would required a non-reversible, permanent stoma, she was understably stunned.
"My husband was shell-shocked," Roz said.
"This type of operation encroaches on your sex and personal life which requires considerable adjustment."
Roz, the Cancer Council's Community Bowel Cancer ambassador, developed colorectal cancer in 1999 which ultimately required major surgery.
Despite undergoing nine annual colonoscopies which revealed polyps and ulcerative colitis, the cancer returned necessitating an abdominoperineal resection.
However, Roz wasn't going to let this small setback impact on her life and since being fitted with the permanent stoma, she has continued her active lifestyle, swimming and playing golf and travelling.
"We made light of it with the grandchildren when they asked "if you don't poo out of your bottom, where do you poo?
Father also developed bowel cancer in his 70s; so I can thank my dad for alerting me to the necessity for regular check-ups.Roz Dreise
"One remarked, it was like a little volcano."
Bowel cancer has long run in her family, Roz said.
"My grandfather served in France and passed away from bowel and lung cancer at age 57.
"Father also developed bowel cancer in his 70s, so I can thank my dad for alerting me to the necessity for regular check-ups.
"My two sisters, who have regular colonoscopies, are cancer-free.
"However, my son Steven was told just before his 48th birthday he had bowel cancer.
"Because chemotherapy caused peripheral nerve damage my son, needing his hands for work, had his treatment adjusted to prevent this side effect."
Roz applauded the Cancer Council information and support line, 13 11 20, which put her in contact with a person who also had an ileostomy bag.
"This service is wonderful for those living in country areas where some services are not readily available."
A tireless community fundraiser with various community groups, Roz said she was disappointed that more people don't use the free bowel screening kits, which can save many lives.
A seven-week Cancer Council Victoria campaign in 2017 resulted in approximately 12,500 extra Victorians screening for bowel cancer during the campaign period, potentially saving more than 300 people from developing bowel cancer and more than 180 from dying of bowel cancer.
Tragically, bowel cancer claims around 100 Australians every week.
And, people aged 50 or over were at a higher risk of bowel cancer.
"The Australian Government commenced a phased-in roll-out of Australia's free screening program in 2006, with the final two age groups (aged 52 and 56) added to the program for the first time last year," community programs co-ordinator, Tim Chapman said.
In 2019, people aged 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72 and 74 were sent the free Bowel Cancer Screening Kit in the mail.
This year, free bowel screening kits will be sent on a two-yearly basis to all eligible Australians aged 50 to 74.
If you don't receive a kit, call the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Information Line on 1800 118 868 to see when you will or visit the Cancer Council website for more information about the bowel screening campaign.
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