It's okay to talk about bowel cancer, say young survivors launching 'Never too young' campaign

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A group young people diagnosed with bowel cancer have launched a campaign called 'Never too young' to raise awareness that the disease doesn't only affect older people and that it's okay to talk about it.

The 'Never too young' campaign is out to create awareness of the disease, which doesn’t just impact older people.
Source: Seven Sharp

Ninety per cent of people with bowel cancer are over the age of 50,  but younger people are not immune, Seven Sharp reported.

Chelsea Halliwell was 39, on holiday with her husband and two young children, when she realised something was up.

"I'd had some symptoms over probably about six weeks, just a little bit of blood when I went to the toilet on the toilet paper. Not all the time, intermittent," she explained, at a group photo shoot for the new campaign.

"And I thought nothing of it really. I thought this is a bit odd. But it kept going away. And then while I was on holiday I read an article in the newspaper about a Wellington woman, about her diagnosis with bowel cancer with the same symptom. And I thought, oh crickey that's what I've got!"

Ms Halliwell was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.

"I'm really proud of myself for actually getting to the GP 'cause that isn't something I would normally have done. And it saved my life," she said.

Many of them were misdiagnosed or it wasn't picked up for a long time"
Chelsea Halliwell

Now, Ms Halliwell and a group of other young people who've had bowel cancer are hoping to save more lives, creating the campaign 'Never too young".

"Overnight I got 44 responses and they just kept coming in. And they were stories of people who were in their twenties and thirties who had no idea that it was something that young people could get. And many of them were misdiagnosed or it wasn't picked up for a long time," Ms Halliwell said.

Another member of the group, Jonny Hope, said he hopes the campaign will "normalise" the issue of bowel cancer and get people talking about it

"I don't think there's anything to be embarrassed about. And I think that could be a barrier in a lot of people going to get checked," he said.

Ms Halliwell added: "You might talk over a coffee with a girlfriend about examining a breast lump, but you would never talk about this sort of thing in the same situation. And that's what we want to do is to change that conversation so that it's okay to talk about. It's just another part of your body." 

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