Peter Mac News

The cancer from "right out of left field"

21 June 2024

When Therese O’Donoghue went to see her GP in 2019 the last thing on her mind was bowel cancer.

The busy mum of two teenagers had just turned 50, and she was “fully satisfied with this next stage of life”.

Her GP was being thorough when he did an abdominal exam and felt something irregular.


“I’d had no symptoms, I was a busy working mum - two daughters at that stage 14 and 18 - I had my own business and I was pretty fit and healthy,” she says.

“I was heading to the GP to get something else checked out … he mentioned that he felt this lump and I was really shocked - it was right out of left field for me.”

Scans would confirm Therese was among the 300 Australians diagnosed every week with bowel cancer.

When detected early enough, 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated with surgery.

Therese’s cancer was not found early. It had already spread to her liver and the lining of her abdomen. Her ongoing treatment has included being part of clinical trials.

Therese has shared her story as part of Peter Mac’s “Demystifying Clinical Trials” podcast. Listen to her episode in full here.

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month - an initiative of Bowel Cancer Australia - which is dedicated to raising awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer (behind lung cancer).

Every week, 100 Australians die from bowel cancer.

Early detection is the key to reducing bowel cancer deaths and a screening program is available.

Australians aged 50 to 74 receive a bowel cancer screening kit in the mail every two years.

The screening initiative is expanding and, from July this year, Australians aged 45 to 49 can request a bowel cancer screening kit to be mailed to them.

Read more about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program here and find more helpful info on Bowel Cancer Australia’s website.