Test detects silent killer
A former navy man who survived bowel cancer is warning of what he calls the "silent killer".
Hauraki resident Brent Wray, 64, says if it was not for the free Waitemata District Health Board Bowel Screening Pilot, he might not have had such a lucky escape.
Mr Wray was encouraged to take part in the screening during a routine check-up to his GP.
"As it turned out she actually saved my life," he says.
In February Mr Wray received the home testing kit in the mail.
"This mystery parcel sat on my bench for a few days until I finally got around to it. It was pretty easy and non-intrusive," he says.
Within 24 hours of returning the test he was called by his GP who told him traces of blood were found in the sample and that he needed to undergo a colonoscopy.
Further scans confirmed there was a cancerous lump in his bowel and Mr Wray was booked in for surgery the following week.
"The surgeon said ‘we'll just chop a bit here and there and you'll be right as rain'. I was totally relaxed," Mr Wray says.
More than 7cm of his bowel was removed, leaving him with a scar the length of his torso.
"I had no fear of what they were going to do I just wanted the stuff out of me," he says.
Mr Wray was prescribed the maximum dose of oral chemotherapy and remains at home recovering.
Doctors are confident Mr Wray is clear of the disease.
"I had no symptoms, as far as I was concerned I was OK. That's why I call it the silent killer," he says.
Men need to get over their aversion to doctors and take responsibility for their own health, Mr Wray says.
"We all like to think we're tough buggers and we don't need to go to the doctor."
Men and women aged 50 to 74 living in the Waitemata health board area, including the North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney, are eligible to take part in the free bowel screening programme.
Call 0800 924 432 or email info@bowelscreening waitemata.co.nz for more information.
Or go to bowelscreening waitemata.co.nz.
North Shore Times