Bundaberg’s Lynn Francis has a new appreciation for life after she inadvertently discovered she had cancer through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.
Lynn, now 68, said it was during 2016 when she received the National Bowel Cancer Screening kit in the mail.
At the time she had no identifiable symptoms which would make her believe the test would come back positive but decided to take the at-home bowel cancer screening as routine.
The Australian Government offers free screening kits to more than 6 million Australians each year through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
But only four in 10 of these complete the test.
Lynn's active participation in the NBCSP led to the detection of polyps in 2016 and later, a sizable cancer at the top of her bowel in 2019.
The decision to take the test changed the course of Lynn’s life and now four years later she is cancer free and grateful for the national health program.
“It wasn’t long after, when I received a letter saying I had a positive result, and I phoned my doctor who phoned a specialist and said I needed an operation to remove part of my bowel,” she said.
“Two weeks later I had the operation and I was told there were also lymph nodes outside of my bowel and I had to have chemo.
“If I didn’t take the test – I don’t think I would be here.
“I had very vague symptoms – tiredness, but I pushed these symptoms aside as I was 64 years old.
“A little bit of weight loss – I was pleased I could fit into more clothes!”
Lynn said after battling cancer it amazes her to hear the number of people who were within the age range for testing but simply dismissed the thought of proceeding with the free National Bowel Cancer Screening.
“I am actually blown away to hear how people receive the kit but do not complete them,” she said.
“What I am experiencing now, living in beautiful Bundaberg wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t take the test.
“My son moved to Bundaberg first and I fell in love with Bundy and we followed, and then my daughter moved too.
“I have all my family around me now – I am alive – I appreciate life and …. encourage everyone who is eligible to take the test to do so.
“It doesn’t take long to do the test and in the privacy of your own home, it could save your life.”
Cancer Council and the Australian Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (NBCSP) awareness campaign encourages Australians aged 50-74 to Get2it and take the at-home bowel cancer screening test.
Lynn is now cancer-free after treatment and wants to encourage more locals to Get2it and take the free bowel screening test which may just save their lives.
There is hope for increased participation rates as recent data showed, in regional Queensland, there was a 33% relative increase in the rate of kits returned from recent invitations for the NBCSP during the campaign period compared to the non-campaign period, as well as a 57% relative increase in the rate of kits returned from older invitations.
The National Bowel Screening Program test is quick and hygienic and can be completed at home and returned in the post. More information is available here.