A WOMAN diagnosed with bowel cancer after participating in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme has featured in a new film to raise awareness of the importance of the bowel screening test.
Elizabeth Harris, 64, who was diagnosed in November 2014 and has since been successfully treated, was surprised by Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay – an advocate of bowel screening – to speak about her experience.
The mother of three from Rutherglen routinely returned her bowel screening test in October 2014 and was asked to re-take it - as the result wasn’t conclusive - but had no worries at that stage as she had no symptoms.
Following a colonoscopy and a CT scan, Elizabeth was told she had bowel cancer and went through surgery in January 2015 where a 12 inch tumour was removed from her bowel. She recently received the all-clear and credits this to the early diagnosis she received through screening.
The film charts Elizabeth’s story, and her surprise visit at home from Fred MacAulay, who appeared in the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early TV advert last September.
The ‘Bowel Movement’ campaign resulted in an additional 3,000 tests being returned over the two month period, compared to the same time the previous year1.
Statistics show that the likelihood of surviving bowel cancer is 14 times higher if detected at an early stage compared to a late stage2, and the bowel screening test - offered to people aged 50 to 74 - remains the most effective way of finding the disease early.
Speaking about her involvement, Liz said: “I’m happy to do anything to raise awareness of the bowel screening test as it saved my life. Opening my door to Fred MacAulay was a bit of a surprise, but we had a good laugh and it was nice to chat to him about how life has changed since my diagnosis.
“I’m a very positive person and although the last year or so hasn’t been the easiest, I’m just so glad it was found early and I can now look forward to spending time with my children and grandchildren.
“Bowel screening isn’t the most pleasant thing but it takes minutes and is done in the privacy of your own bathroom. I just hope my story helps encourage others to get their test done.”
Comedian Fred MacAulay, an advocate of bowel screening, said:
“It was great meeting Liz and speaking to her about her experience. Because of screening, she has been diagnosed early, successfully treated, and can get on with the rest of her life.
“I do my test every two years and personally think the screening we’re offered in this country is a great thing. I’d encourage everyone who is invited to take the test.
“I might drop in again sometime. The tea was excellent and we had a lovely chat.’
Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
“People who receive their bowel screening test may be put off by the process, but the reality is that more people than ever in Scotland are completing the test and returning it, so you’re not alone. This means more people have a better chance of bowel cancer being detected early, when the chances of survival, and even cure, are much higher.
“It’s positive that participation is rising, but we’re keen to reach those who have dismissed taking the test, or are putting it off, through our work on Detect Cancer Early. We want everyone in Scotland to have the best chance of surviving cancer.”
For further information visit getcheckedearly.org or call the Scottish Bowel Screening Helpline on 0800 0121 833.