NORM Wright is forever thankful to his GP and a bout of gastro.
Without them, the 65-year-old Echuca retired school teacher would not have found out he had bowel cancer when he did.
And because it was picked up early, it could be treated.
‘‘I feel so lucky that it was picked up as early as it was,’’ he said.
Mr Wright went to his GP Sam Kennedy after suffering from gastro at the end of 2015.
‘‘The first thing he said to me was ‘when was your last bowel cancer screening?’,’’ he said.
‘‘Being a typical male and a school teacher I was quite busy and I just let things go.’’
The resulting test came back positive so Mr Smith went for a colonoscopy in March 2016.
‘‘After that it became clear I had a growth and it had to be removed,’’ he said.
‘‘I was very lucky because my oncologist was able to do the operation in Echuca which was a real bonus as I didn’t have to go to Bendigo or Melbourne.
‘‘They basically took out half my septic tank. I was lucky that they caught it early enough to have it removed and I didn’t end up with a bag.’’
After surgery, Mr Wright underwent six months of chemotherapy, having 10 sessions every fortnight.
Unfortunately towards the end of chemotherapy, Mr Wright suffered nerve damage to his fingers and toes which has remained.
However, that is the least of his worries, with his most recent test last week revealing a spot on his liver.
‘‘The most common ongoing process from bowel cancer is that it goes into the liver,’’ he said.
‘‘It means I will have to have a piece cut out of my liver and more chemo.
‘‘Never assume you’re going to get the all-clear each time. It’s a lifelong process.
‘‘This is just another step in the process.’’
But he remains hopeful because ‘‘the alternative isn’t much better’’.
Forever grateful for the initial screening, Mr Wright is now urging all men to get tested as soon as they can.
‘‘I have a son in his early 30s and as soon as I was diagnosed, he got tested,’’ he said.
‘‘He got the all-clear thankfully but because of the genetic disposition, there is more of a chance of him having it.’’
His advice to other men is ‘‘just do it’’.
‘‘There is nothing embarrassing about it. It’s done in the privacy of your own home and then you just send it away,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s very simple and not painful.’’
ECHUCA Regional Health will hold a free cancer screening night next week.
Dr Vanessa Haller from Southern Skin Centre will talk about skin cancer prevention, ERH visiting medical oncologist Dr Robert Blum will discuss the benefits of early cancer detection for treatments of breast, colorectal and cervical cancer and Dr Peter Nesbitt from Echuca-Moama Family Medical Practice will speak about his GP role in cancer screening and services available in Echuca.
ERH McGrath breast care, prostate cancer, cancer support and women’s health nurses, as well as health promotion staff, will also be there set up with stalls for those wanting to ask questions and receive information.
The event will be held on Wednesday, October 4, from 7pm to 9pm at Moama Bowling Club, with a light supper provided.
All are welcome.