When Horsley man Chris Apps was told he had stage three bowel cancer his first thought was about his kids, now the new grandfather urges those over the age of 50 to go do the test.
The 59-year-old reckons most people dodge the test that arrives in the mail because of the 'yuck factor'.
"Doing the test is a win-win. You're either going to give yourself peace of mind or you'll save your life," Mr Apps said.
The Australian Government sends free screening kits to more than 6 million Australians each year but only 40.9 per cent complete the test, a YouGov test shows.
The survey of over 2000 Australians found that a quarter was much more likely to prioritise their health leading up to a milestone in their lives.
In 2020, Chris Apps's test came back positive for bowel cancer but he originally thought it was a mistake.
"I had no symptoms, I wasn't even worried. I cycle, I'm quite healthy, I felt good," he said.
The father-of-four sat in the surgeons' office just before Christmas and was told he had a five-centimetre tumour in his lower bowel and it was already at stage three.
"I was very confronting ... it sounds like a bit of a cliche, a bit corny, but you do think about life and I remember the main thought for me was like my kids," he said.
An Australian Government and Cancer Council Australia campaign is encouraging people over 50 to do the two-minute test.
"We want Australians to continue to enjoy life to the fullest after they turn 50," Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Tanya Buchanan said.
"Staying on top of preventative health screening, including bowel screening, is one of the best ways to be able to enjoy the special milestone moments life has to offer."
Mr Apps has had a bowel resection surgery and six cycles of chemotherapy to treat his cancer and has high praise for the Wollongong Hospital staff that cared for him.
As he spends time with his ten-month-old grandchild under high surveillance with blood tests every three months and CT scans every six months he urges people to keep doing the tests.
"There would be people in the Illawarra right now who would have bowel cancer and they don't know it," he said.
The national government survey found that there has been a 37 per cent relative increase in people in regional NSW returning the bowel cancer screening tests in campaign periods compared to the non-campaign period.
The National Bowel Screening Program test can be completed at home and returned in the post. More information is available at www.cancer.org.au/bowelscreening
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