Never too young: bowel cancer doesn’t discriminate

Callum Dodson - Cameron Howe
Donna Bauer and Callum Dodson, Bowel Cancer Australia ambassadors by Cameron Howe

Cameron Howe, The Mordialloc Chronicle
July 5, 2017

Twenty two year old Callum Dodson who is fighting a rare form of bowel cancer wants to deliver an important message, that you’re never too young.

The fit, healthy and keen footballer from Chelsea Heights began to feel ill and lethargic before getting blood tests completed in April, which uncovered low iron and haemoglobin levels that were causing anaemia and extreme exhaustion. Callum’s diagnosis is an aggressive malignant neoplasm present in the bowel known as Clear Cell Sarcoma.

Many of Callum’s peers are surprised at the diagnosis, but one thing is for sure is that this disease doesn’t discriminate, and according to Bowel Cancer Australia “every year over 1,300 Australians under the age of 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer.”

Callum’s wants to address the misconception that the disease only affects the older generation, and his message is that “you are never to be young to be diagnosed with bowel cancer.”

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a recent study that found that since 1990 colon cancers had surged 17 per cent and rectal cancers had increased by 29 per cent amongst young adults. Causes of the alarming increase remain clouded, however Bowel Cancer Australia says that specialists agree that symptoms awareness is critical to improve early detection. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, persistent changes in bowel habits, blood in the bowel movement or rectal bleeding and unexplained tiredness or weight loss.

Colorectal Surgeon Professor Graham Newstead states that, “patients need to know their own bodies and recognise when something is not normal.”

Ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia Donna Bauer who faced a relentless workload at the time of diagnosis at age 43, as a state MP and mother of four has offered support to Callum and anyone facing the debilitating disease. “Cancer affects us all, I’m sure that there is no-one that hasn’t had a family member, a friend, or even themselves impacted by cancer.”

Callum is focused, looking forward to returning to football and described being diagnosed as “life-changing.” His advice is to please get checked because “this was something that I wasn’t expecting at my age and it can happen to anyone at any time.”

In June the duo participated in Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise the profile of the disease responsible for claiming the lives of 80 Australians each week.

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