Stories from Bowel Screening Tāngata Rongonui | Local Champions
If Jack Te Moana had continued to ignore his bowel cancer symptoms, he says it would have been too late.
He welcomes the introduction of the free National Bowel Screening Programme across the Bay of Plenty region.
“If you get the bowel screening test kit in the mail, don’t delay – do it! If bowel cancer is picked up early, there is a much bigger chance it can be successfully treated.”
Jack’s symptoms started with a flu he couldn’t shake. “I was really sick. I’ve been working for 33 years and have never had more than two days off sick before,” he explains. After two weeks he returned to work at Tauranga Intermediate School, but continued to experience worsening symptoms including an incredibly sore stomach and complete loss of energy.
“But I brushed it off. Us Māori, we harden up and carry on when we shouldn’t.”
Returning from a family holiday six months later the pain was so intense in the middle of the night that Jack, not wanting to wake and bother his family, drove himself to the Emergency Department at Tauranga Hospital.
“My life turned to custard from there,” he says.
Tests confirmed Jack had bowel cancer, and it was life threatening. But fortunately for Jack, it was treatable. “The next moment I was on the operating table. My doctor told me that if I had gone in a week later, it would have been too late.”
The National Bowel Screening Programme is free for people aged 60 to 74 years. It aims to save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated.
The programme is for those who have no symptoms of bowel cancer. If you have any of the following symptoms, or you are concerned about your bowel health, see your GP right away:
- a change in your normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks
- blood in your bowel motion (poo).