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Papatoetoe’s resident Santa encourages whaanau to do the bowel screening test

Media release 18 December 2019 l Every December, 65-year-old David Broughton looks forward to spreading Christmas joy to whaanau at Hunters Plaza in Papatoetoe as their resident Santa. This year putting on the red suit has taken on a whole new meaning. The Papatoetoe local was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in April.

David is thankful for his wife for pushing him to do the bowel screening test.

“My wife said, ‘get it done; get it sorted. You never know; you need to check it out.’ When I got the results back, it was a shock. I realised that's probably why I'd been feeling a bit dizzy,” David says.

It was a difficult conversation to have with his family.

“Most of my children live in Australia, so I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell them. It was a shock for them. I said we’ve just got to think positive. This is a hurdle we need to get over.”

The staff at Middlemore Hospital put David at ease throughout the whole process.

“The major part for me was getting over the surgery. When I had a look of how they did the stitches - it was pretty awesome. I’ve only got a little scar – you can barely notice it.”

Since his surgery in August and finishing chemotherapy in October, David has focused on improving his health.

“I don’t have the dizzy spells anymore. I’ve been doing light workouts after my surgery. I feel a lot better and I’ve got my strength back in my arms. I was eating too much of the good stuff; you got to know when to say when.”

David wants to encourage whaanau to do the bowel screening test.

“Go and do it. If you detect it early, you can overcome it. Don’t get diagnosed when it’s too late. Talk to your doctor; find out what’s involved and what you should do to make yourself one hundred percent. Keep healthy and eat the right sort of foods.”

All tests and treatment under the National Bowel Screening Programme are free for eligible participants (people aged 60- 74 years who are eligible to receive public healthcare, and who are not currently receiving treatment, or surveillance for bowel cancer).

Invitations will be sent to those eligible around the time of their birthday - each will receive an invitation letter, home testing kit and consent form through the mail.

“Please encourage relatives of the screening age to do the test. It’s important, particularly for our Maaori and Pacific community, to talk about doing the test with their family to normalise the conversation on bowel screening and early detection,” says clinical lead for the Counties Manukau Health Bowel Screening Programme Dr Alasdair Patrick.

“If you or a family member have received a test kit, please do the test and send it back. If you haven’t received a test kit or need another, please phone 0800 924 432 to request one,” Dr Patrick says.

Facts about bowel cancer

  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
  • Bowel cancer kills as many people as breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • Currently 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and 1,200 die from it.
  • Bowel cancer is more common in those over 60 and affects more men than women.
  • Common symptoms may include:
    • A change to your normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks.
    • Blood in your bowel motion (poo).
  • Although these symptoms are usually caused by other conditions, it’s important to get them checked by your doctor.
  • Deterioration of bowel health and bowel cancer is not a necessary part of aging. You can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by having a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre, regular exercise and by not smoking.
  • People don’t need to register; they will automatically be contacted by mail to participate in the programme. However, people aged 60 – 74 years are encouraged to ensure their contact details are up to date with their family doctor.

For more information about the programme, please visit, or call 0800 924 432, or talk to your family doctor.

Less than a minute to read Communications Team

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