It’s “gross”, but we need to talk about it – our bowel movements.
Channel Nine presenter Erin Molan is a person who knows that better than anyone, because her sister, Sarah Sutton, battled through bowel cancer and it’s only by chance she survived – after her mother gave up her doctor’s appointment for her.
“My big sister was diagnosed at 27 with bowel cancer and she’d just had her second child,” she tells 9Honey.
“She essentially was very young and there wasn’t really any awareness at that stage.”
For many people under the age of 50 bowel cancer isn’t even thought of as a possibility and the same was true for Erin’s sister.
“She would go to the doctors and they just told her to cut gluten out of her diet or not to eat wheat,” Erin explains.
“She was incredibly lucky that my mum actually had a doctor’s appointment and told her to take it to see another doctor – it was the third doctor she had been to.”
The doctor recommended she have a colonoscopy and within 48 hours of receiving those results, Sarah was on an operating table having her entire bowel removed. She had been diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.
Immediately following the surgery, Erin’s sister underwent chemotherapy and radiation.
“Had it been another few weeks the doctors said we probably would have lost her,” Erin says.
“It’s incredibly lucky they found it, and incredibly lucky we found a doctor who was willing to test even though it was someone so young which is so rare.
For Erin, it’s only after she gave birth to her daughter Eliza that it kicked her own awareness of the disease into high gear, despite having been an ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia.
Her sister did have a “genetic mutation” which caused her to contract the cancer. The former Footy Show presenter – who recently partnered with VIXIN to raise awareness about bowel cancer – wanted to check to see if she had too.
“It was a weird situation where it was a genetic mutation, so I got tested last year since having my baby,” she tells 9Honey.
“Now that I have a daughter, there is nothing that’s more of a priority for me because no one will ever love her or look after her like I will.”
And luckily the results for Erin were negative. However, that’s not stopping her from continuing the conversation.
“I just talk about it as much as I can as not enough people do, because it’s gross – it’s bowels,” she admits.
“You don’t catch up with girlfriends and say, ‘I haven’t done a s–t in four days.'”
By making the conversation surrounding bowel movements and bowel cancer more prevalent, Erin hopes a lot more lives can be saved because, if the cancer is caught early enough, there is an extremely high chance of a full recovery.
“It’s the second biggest cancer in Australia but it’s also the most curable cancer of all of them,” she says. “There’s a 98% cure rate if you get it early enough.
“It means almost everyone can be saved, but we need to raise awareness, we need to make sure we know what the symptoms are and not just write them off.”
As for Erin’s sister, she has been in the clear for over five years, but it is a cancer that can come back. However, currently Sarah is “doing incredibly well”.
“She still has a colostomy bag and will have one for the rest of her life most likely, but she’s got her life,” Erin says.
As June marks bowel cancer awareness month Erin Molan has partnered withVIXIN skincare. The brand is going to donate $1 from every sale to Bowel Cancer Australia and also give away a jar away to every family that’s been affected by the disease. For more information about bowel cancer and bowel health visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website.