Advocacy, Community

Bowel cancer kit saving lives

June Maslin was successfully treated for bowel cancer after an at-home test kit detected it early. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

A Blenheim woman is urging others to take at an at-home test which helped save her life.

When June Maslin got a bowel testing kit in the post, she put it aside; with no family history and no symptoms, at first it seemed like a waste of time.

But she was persuaded by friends to do the test and within a month was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour.

The keen golfer, who has since been given the all clear, is warning others not to ignore the free test kits.

“I nearly didn’t do it but it’s so simple to do and it’s given me a second chance at life,” she says.

The grandmother of one had surgery at Wairau Hospital in April this year and will not need chemotherapy.

She says the 5-minute test detected signs of the cancer before she developed any symptoms.

In the year since it was launched in Marlborough, the bowel cancer screening initiative has seen 15,223 kits sent out.

Sixty-six per cent were returned. The Ministry of Health’s target for return rate is 60 per cent.

“I felt fine, I didn’t have any symptoms, June says. “I really didn’t think there was anything wrong.

“Please do it now, the sooner it’s done, the better peace of mind you’ll have.

“Everybody during this was absolutely marvelous, the hospital staff were fabulous.”

A total of 415 tests have proven positive with 11 of these proving to be cancer.

Nelson Marlborough Health Bowel Screening Programme manager Claudia Teunissen has been helping spread the word at information stalls at festivals, A&P shows and community meetings.

She says the most satisfying part of her role is getting positive feedback from the public.

“People telling me that they have completed the kit and had a negative result.

“Also, when people tell me that I had convinced them to do the test after we had spoken together at another event.

“I also feel I’ve done a good job when people from our priority population want to talk to me individually and even request for a kit to be sent to them,” she says.

For further information visit www.timetoscreen.nz/bowel-screening/

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