Community figure calls for people to take their bowel health seriously
Uptake of our National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) is hugely boosted in the regions by the work of the community, highlighted by MidCentral DHB’s latest community champion story.
When the bowel screening programme rolled out in the MidCentral DHB (MDHB) region, Stephen Paewai knew he would be taking part as soon as it arrived in his letterbox.
“I wasn’t hesitant to do it but I did procrastinate a bit,” Stephen said. “It’s not something anyone would be jumping out of their seats to do, but it is so important to get it done.”
Having his father pass away from bowel cancer meant he was well aware of the ferociousness of the disease, which is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand.
Mr Paewai is a well-known community figure in the Tararua district, having served on a number of boards and committees, including the Tararua Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP), MidCentral DHB’s Consumer Council and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua.
Once the test was completed, and he discovered how quick and easy it was, he realised many others who had received the kit were probably putting it off in the same way he had.
“I’m passionate about Māori health and getting our Māori populations to take their health seriously. Bowel cancer has higher rates amongst Māori and Pasifika peoples, but we have this simple and quick test now sent out directly to us that can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Mr Paewai said he wanted everyone to know about the test and how crucial it was to do.
“Everyone has a part to play in this because we all have friends and whānau that are of the age range. And we need to encourage each and every one of them to do their test.”
He hoped through kōrero with others in the community about how easy the test was to do, he would encourage others to do theirs.
Bowel screening aims to find cancer early, when it can often be successfully treated. The free programme, targeted at 60 to 74-year olds, is New Zealand’s newest cancer screening programme and our first screening programme for both men and women. Participants in the NBSP receive a home test kit in the mail, which is designed to detect minute traces of blood in a bowel motion that can indicate the presence of bowel cancer.
Bowel screening is being offered to 29,000 people aged between 60 and 74 in the MDHB region over the first two years of the programme.
More about the National Bowel Screening Programme can be found here.