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Published Wednesday 5 Jun 2019

No symptoms? Well, I didn’t either. The free bowel screening test saved my life.

Jackie is presently researching and developing data into genetic intelligence pathways at Edinburgh and Oxford Universities. She is far too busy to be bothering with something as inconvenient as cancer!

Jackie had no symptoms. She is ridiculously healthy. But then, the surgeons told her, so are many of their cancer patients.

Jackie turned 74 in November last year and she wasn’t sure if she’d bother doing the kit when it arrived in the mail. Then on doing some research (that’s her thing!) she learned that Wairarapa DHB is one of only eight regions providing the free screening programme. Jackie did the test.

"I got the call and was told it was a positive test. I automatically said, ‘that’s good, everything about my health is positive’, but I soon got that mistake straightened out for me, when I was told there is such a thing as a bad positive."

"The colonoscopy dates messed with my Christmas plans, having it on Christmas Eve, but it was necessary, I was told. Even though there was nothing wrong with me. There was no sign at all."

Being so active and healthy helped Jackie’s surgery, and her recovery. But it also meant she had no symptoms and really didn’t think she needed to do the test.

"Looking back, I had extreme tiredness for a few months but I put this down to the long hours I was working with my research projects. It turned out (the tiredness) was due to my red blood cells being depleted due to the cancer I didn’t know I had."

"Bowel screening picked this up just in time. The surgery was successful and I’ve now got a stoma bag for life. But I look at all the positive things – if I had lived anywhere else that didn’t have the free programme, things may be very different now.

"Ironically," Jackie remembers, "I went past a bowel screening display about a year ago and just walked past saying ‘no thank you, I don’t need that’, not knowing I had tumours growing inside me. How wrong was I!"

Jackie had excellent support from Wairarapa DHB’s Cancer Nurse, the Wellington Colorectal Team and Stoma Nurse, and Cancer Society Wairarapa.

"All these caring and courteous professionals made the whole process bearable, sometimes even enjoyable, and I cannot thank them enough."

To read the latest bowel screening newsletter - CLICK HERE