Cancer testing kit a lifesaver

Bowel cancer survivor Kathryn Lewis is urging people to take advantage of free bowel cancer testing kits, after her decision to complete one saved her life.
Bowel cancer survivor Kathryn Lewis is urging people to take advantage of free bowel cancer testing kits, after her decision to complete one saved her life. Scottie Simmonds

BUNDABERG woman Kathryn Lewis remembers the shock of receiving a positive bowel cancer test result.

She had completed a National Bowel Cancer Screening Test received in the mail last year, but put off doing the test because she had not experienced any of the described symptoms.

Eventually, after several weeks, Mrs Lewis completed the test in a few minutes over two days.

That decision saved her life.

“I was absolutely shocked when the test results came back positive for blood and was immediately referred to a specialist to have a colonoscopy in October,” Mrs Lewis said.

“The colonoscopy results than came back positive to cancerous polyps. I had no family history whatsoever. I was not interested in pursuing testing, but I am glad I did.”

On December 20 last year, Mrs Lewis went in for surgery to have the cancerous polyps removed, along with almost half her bowel.

“I am so thankful for the bowel cancer screening test. It saved my life,” she said.

“If I hadn’t been tested, it would have perforated my bowel wall, meaning that I would have required chemotherapy or radiation therapy.”

During Bowel Cancer Awareness Week, which runs until June 11, Mrs Lewis encouraged people to take the testing kits seriously, as early detection saved lives.

“The testing is free. I know others have thrown the kit out,” Mrs Lewis said.

“People look at it and think they don’t want to do it, but it is so important.

“I also urge those who aren’t in the age bracket to receive a free test kit to visit their GP and get tested.”

Mrs Lewis said she now underwent regular check-ups with her GP and specialist to monitor her health and ensure she remained cancer free.

“I will be doing check-ups every six months for the next five years and thankfully right now I’m feeling great. Apart from a scar, I am feeling totally relieved,” she said.



The 11th annual Bowel Cancer Awareness Week is a public education initiative of Bowel Cancer Australia, centred on the week from June 5-11.

The week aims to raise public awareness of a disease that is the most common cancer in Australia, affecting both men and women and claiming the lives of 80 Australians every week.

For more information about bowel cancer or if you require assistance or support, call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

Topics:  cancer gp mail specialist symptoms

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