People often refer to Breast Cancer as one of the ‘good cancers’. Surely the phrase ‘good cancer’ is a total oxymoron, but you’d be surprised how often it gets bandied around. I remember on one occasion last year in the chemo ward, while hooked up to my intravenous cocktail of poison, I overheard someone I could not see proclaim she wished she had Breast Cancer.
Say what? Had I actually just heard someone WISH for BREAST CANCER? Why on earth, would anyone want what I had? Had she seen people like me lately? I was hardly a picture of health at the time: incredibly weak, rake thin, bald and pale!
Now of course, with a teeny bit of perspective and a bit of space away from the trauma of my own treatment zone, I get it.
I have no idea what this woman’s diagnosis was, but ALL cancer diagnoses are pretty damn horrible.
It’s true that as far as cancers go, Breast Cancer’s overall survival rates are better than some others out there, and it has a much higher profile in our society thanks to its fucking ridiculous playful association with the colour pink. I think it obviously helps too, that boobs are constantly sexualised and therefore way more important to everyone that your average – you know – colon or something. Sorry Colons, but it’s just a fact of life that everyone loves boobs, and not many give two hoots about you guys. It’s just too hard to garner as much enthusiasm for boring bits that don’t bounce and stuff.
Breast Cancer awareness campaigns can do fucking ridiculous hilarious things like dress men up in tutus and put dogs in bras.
They can have cutesy slogans like:
and ‘Save The Titties’ and people everywhere will donate because – FUN BAGS, amirite?
Celebrities can post ‘no bra selfies’ or pose sexily on Instagram in their underwear under the guise of cancer awareness.
Total. Puke. Fest.
On the flip side it means that people quite happily talk about Breast Cancer, so on some level, I have to admit that the profile of Breast Cancer is bigger and better because of it. I just take issue with the message, and the ‘sexification’ of what is a pretty ugly disease.
You want to see what Breast Cancer really looks like? Check here. I’ll happily show anyone who wants to see my scar lines too.
In comparison to the carnival that is Breast Cancer, there are lots of other forgotten cancers out there that struggle to get the same level of community support, dollars for research and awareness required to bolster survival rates. It’s pretty hard for, say – your bowel – to garner the support and media coverage that a pair of breasts can, isn’t it? But here’s the thing…we need to stop sticking our fingers in our ears and closing ourselves off in little ‘bubbles of invincibility’ and start talking about all cancers, their signs and symptoms.
June is Bowel Cancer Awareness month, and today I’m taking a break from all things boob, in order to highlight the importance of being in tune with your bowel. Copping a monthly feel of your breasts is easy, but sometimes the signs that something is amiss in your digestive tract are less obvious. And leaving symptoms unchecked for too long can be devastating.
While the chances of contracting Bowel Cancer increase with age, many young people are afflicted with it too. The worst thing we can do is presume we are young, and therefore immune to diseases like cancer. I felt that way before Breast Cancer, and we all know how that went down!
So, let’s talk about poo…
No don’t go screwing your nose up like that! This is super important.
Bowel Cancer affects more and more Australians every year, both male and female, young and old.
We all need to be bowel-aware
Here are the IMPORTANT things to watch for:
- a persistent change in bowel habit, such as looser, more diarrhoea-like bowel movements (i.e. going to the toilet more often, or trying to go – irregularity in someone whose bowel movements have previously been regular)
- A change in appearance of bowel movements (e.g. narrower stools or mucus in stools)
- Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
- Frequent gas pains, cramps, or a feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum
- A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
- Unexplained anaemia (a low blood count) causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss
- Rectal or anal pain or a lump in the rectum or anus
- Abdominal pain or swelling
Now, having these symptoms doesn’t guarantee you’ve got cancer, but It will never hurt to chat to your GP and query anything that feels different. Spread the word to those you love, be bowel savvy and remember that when discovered early, Bowel Cancer is very treatable.
This month, some friends of mine and I are raising funds to donate to Bowel Cancer Australia. We want to show those we love who have been affected by this insidious disease that we care and are committed to increasing the dialogue around Bowel Cancer, and raising money for research. If you know someone who has battled Bowel Cancer, perhaps you might like to help us. To donate some cash, you can click this link to go to our Everyday Hero page, which I spectacularly titled, Bowel Cancer is A Load of Shit
Every cent will go to Bowel Cancer Australia.
I am trying to think of some other ways to raise money for Bowel Cancer. My kids suggested baking biscuits to sell, so we will be doing this soon. If you would like to be involved, or if you would like to buy some biscuits, drop me a line.
No cancer is a good cancer, but there are many that need far more awareness and funding. We can all help!