June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month - Bowel Cancer Australia's signature event to raise awareness of Australia's second deadliest cancer and funds for the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer claims the lives of 101 Australians every week (5,255 people a year) - but it's one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early. While the risk of bowel cancer increases significantly with age, the disease doesn't discriminate, affecting men and women, young and old.
293 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this week (15,206 people a year).
ACT Raiders representative Aaron Oshyer was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in 2018 and has kindly agreed to tell his story to raise awareness of this deadly disease.
"I started my NTL journey in 2012 as a shadow player for Mens 40’s. I was a late call up a couple of weeks out. We did not win many games the first few years."
"We kept improving and became stronger. I love the NTL for the high quality football competition and the shared experience with the members of the ACT team."
"In 2017 we made it to the NTL grand final against the South Queensland Sharks. I was disappointed I tore my hamstring in the semi and could not really compete in the final. Although I did manage to still jag a try in the corner. We had come so far in 5 years."
"In 2018 I had been feeling unwell and had a series of unusual health symptoms including extreme wind build up, vomiting and diarrhoea that was not getting better. The initial diagnosis was merely a stomach bug but the longer the symptoms went on, the more concerned I got and I ended up referring to my GP 3 times in 3 weeks. Upon feeling my stomach and noticing some hard points, my GP had me admitted into hospital straight away. Scans in hospital that night showed I had a blockage due to a tumour."
"They operated on me the next day and removed 60cm of my large intestine, my appendix and over 20 lymph nodes. I had Stage 2 Bowel cancer."
"After surgery my tummy had to be reopened to clean out internal leakage. My stomach wound was not closed up but left to heal naturally. I had no idea the human body could do this."
"My biggest low was during this time in hospital as they would not remove my Nasal Gastric Tube until I stopped vomiting and my bowels had opened up. I could not stop my nausea and could not see a way out."
"Besides recovering and being able to return to normal family life, a big motivator for me over this period was returning to Touch Football. It was my sport of choice and I missed the camaraderie and challenge of playing and genuinely feared I may not get to play again. The treatment and stress of it all made me very tired and one day when I was back in hospital sleeping, my coach Doug Witt had visited me and left an NTL team photo from 2017 that I had been asking for as I feared it may be my last. I woke up to find this photo looking at me. I blu tacked the team photo to the back of my wardrobe door. I would look at it every time I open my wardrobe and used it as my motivation and a goal through the treatment and over my recovery period. Representative Touch football for me is so much more than a sport. It is being part of a team of great people and our shared experience."
"Over the next 10 months I attended 90 nurse appointments to tend to my stomach wound. Once the wound was healed I commenced six weeks of chemotherapy via tablets. These tablets contained mustard gas, something that was widely used during WW1. The poison built up in my body with bad side effects. I lost 10 kilos, had peeling skin on my hands and feet. I was admitted back into hospital."
"Once I recovered my weight I commenced receiving chemotherapy intravenously. Treatment was for about one and a half hours each week for 6 months. The treatment was not that bad for me although I was so glad when it was over. During this period I also developed a stomach hernia due to weakening. My hernia could not be repaired until after my chemotherapy treatment. So I worked on my core strength through sit ups, leg raises and planks. Once my hernia was repaired I improved my fitness including running up Mt Taylor, and agility and sprint training. I returned to playing Touch and played in the 2020 NTL reaching my sporting goal that I had used as one of my drivers to beat this disease."
"June is bowel cancer month. I had cancer at the age of 47. The experience reminded me of how important my health is. In addition to Touch Football, I engage in other outdoor activities, a healthy diet, not drinking too much, and enjoying the good things in life. Bowel Cancer Awareness Month has a positive message - saving lives through early detection - as bowel cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer if found early. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. However, 90% of the cases can be successfully treated if caught early. Help beat Bowel cancer. Don’t put off the chance to save your life."