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Lending a hand to beat bowel cancer is Wanderers’ goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas of Toonggabie.. Lending a hand to beat bowel cancer is Wanderers’ goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas of Toonggabie..
22 September 2023 Posted by 

Wanderers join the fight against bowel cancer

KAREN Grega recalls the moment her doctor confirmed she had bowel cancer. “I walked for 45 minutes in total haze of shock, confused and processing what I’d just heard.”
Having passed colonoscopy along with tests for parasites in her gut, Ms Grega wasn’t worried, nor was her GP. 
“I didn’t comprehend my situation, only after the diagnosis that the reality of having cancer sunk in,” she said. 
Still shellshocked Eric Carapetian shared his haunting story going through bouts of chemotherapy and urgent surgery to remove bowel cancer cyst before it spread to his body. 
A large crowd heard them at the Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club training facility at Rooty Hill, as Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and captain Marcelo Guedes also spoke to urge people to not ignore the free bowel cancer test kits sent to their letterboxes. 
Mr Carapetian said he knew first-hand the urgency of early screening, which saved his and Ms Grega’s life. 
“My message to everyone, especially people aged over 50s to not dismiss the screening test when it arrives in the mail,” Ms Grega said. 
“The test comes directly to your home, it’s free, no appointment required, you can do it in the privacy of your own bathroom. 
 “It only takes a few minutes and most importantly it could save your life, don’t delay, just do it.” 
Colorectal surgeon Dr Michelle Smigielski said screening rate for bowel cancer across Western Sydney is the lowest in the country, only 35 percent, or less than the 41 percent average nationwide its worrying health authorities. 
Since the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program rolled out sending free test kits in the mail every two years for people aged 50 to 74, residents in Western Sydney testing positive with bowel cancer ballooned to 2,777 this year. 
Given bowel cancer is among insidious cancers that can be treated with modern medicine, Dr Smigielski said it is vital people showing symptoms to get detected early because 90 percent of cases have successfully survived. 
“People should see their doctor if they notice bleeding from back passage or any sign of blood after a bowel motion, a change in usual bowel habit, such as constipation. 
“Or when going to the toilet having loose motions prompting diarrhoea, abdominal pain or bloating, weight loss for no obvious reason, or loss of appetite and symptoms of anaemia, including unexplained tiredness, weakness or breathlessness.” 
Ms Grega said she often wondered about her ordeal in 2020 if she did not take the test kit from the mail. 
“It was that split second decision which saved my life. I’m a statistic on the positive side so I am thankful of the test.” 
The Wanderers are helping spread the word to fans and community members attending their games to save lives, chief executive Scott Hudson said. 
“The community has always been an integral driver at the Wanderers, so it’s important we do our part to educate fans and community leaders, especially as we know screening rates are lower in Western Sydney, together we can encourage our community to prioritise their health,” Mr Hudson said. 
Ms Grega has a since produced a podcast to commemorate the first year she was cancer free. 
She wrote 'Love, Laughter & Loo Time' reflecting on her journey and why getting early screening for bowel cancer gave her a second lease on life. 
To obtain free bowel cancer screening kit, consult your GP and visit https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/national-bowel-cancer-screening-program 


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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