Had Peter done the bowel cancer screening test, his cancer may have been found early enough to be treated successfully.
While his cancer was found too late, he’s now determined to boost awareness and encourage others to do the test.
The 54-year old Executive was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in December 2016.
He received the bowel cancer screening test shortly after his 50th birthday, put it in the wardrobe and forgot about it. He had every intention of doing it, but life got busy and it didn’t feel like a priority.
Two years later he began having stomach cramps. He visited the GP, who sent him for tests.
One week before Christmas in 2016, the tests revealed he had stage four bowel cancer.
“My initial response was shock – it didn’t really sink in. What do we need to do next? What’s the process of treatment?” Peter said.
Telling his four adult children – then aged from 20-30 – was one of the hardest parts.
“They’ve all dealt with it in their own ways, I can’t tell them how to deal with it – it’s been a struggle.” Peter added.
His GP confirmed that the first stage of treatment would be a bowel re-section and the second stage would be chemotherapy.
Over a period of twelve cycles, the chemotherapy turned out to be successful, and Peter went into remission in January 2018. The prognosis was quite positive.
Within six months, the routine three-monthly scan revealed tumours had spread to his liver and his lungs. Chemotherapy was ruled out, and there were no more surgical options available.
“Initially, there were all sorts of emotions. The reality of having terminal cancer is tough to process.” Peter said.
“Life is fantastic – I love every minute of it, everything about it.”
Peter is thankful to his wife, who is a nurse, who understands both the medical side and the human side of his diagnosis.
He has been able to process his prognosis in a pragmatic way, but worries how his family are handling it.
“It’s tough to see them thinking about losing their husband and their dad.”
Now, Peter is committed to boost awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of early detection and screening.
“I don’t want people to put a test kit in the wardrobe. I want people to know how important a very simple test can be to saving your life.”
His surgeon explained that had he done the test when he received it, there’s a good chance he’d have received a positive test result, but the cancer may have been picked up early enough to treat it successfully.
He urges all people aged 50-74 to do the free at-home test when it arrives in their mailbox every two years.
“When you receive the kit – do it. The idea of it may sound a bit unappealing, but ultimately it’s a very simple test that you can do in private, and it will provide an opportunity for somebody’s life to be saved.” He said.
“Had I have done the test, my story could have been, would have been, a lot different.”
Bowel cancer takes the lives of around 100 Australians every week.
If you're aged 50-74, do the test – don't throw away the chance to save your life. More than 90 per cent of bowel cancers can be treated successfully if found early.