When Donna Porteous received her bowel cancer screening kit in the mail just after she turned 50, she didn't think twice about what she needed to do.
"Don't ask me why, but I just had a feeling that I needed to complete the test. I sent the test off and didn't give it much more thought as we were heading off on a wonderful European holiday. We had the time of our lives and loved every minute of it," she said.
"But upon arrival home I had a letter from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBSCP) telling me that I had a positive test and needed to see my GP."
Donna had no symptoms and didn't consider herself a likely candidate for bowel cancer so she was shocked when it came back positive. A diagnosis of stage two cancer followed, which meant doctors had to remove half her bowel.
"There is no question about it, the test saved my life and I was very lucky that they caught it when they did," the 52-year-old said.
"The cancer was so close to breaking through the bowel wall."
Despite it being a free test that's delivered in the mail to all Australians when they turn 50, and the fact the kit can prevent up to 90% of bowel cancers when found early, the WA participation rate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program remains low at just 41%.
For many, the sticking point remains a fear of poo.
In an innovative new approach, we invoked the help of scary ‘poo villains' in a new digital campaign coined ‘Stick it to Number 2' to bring home the message that bowel cancer is Australia's number two cancer killer and in comparison, there's nothing scary about using the free and simple bowel screening test at home.
Melissa Ledger, our Cancer Smart Manager, said the purpose of the new campaign is to promote discussion about bowel screening and to normalise the testing process.
"We know it's largely embarrassment and anxiety that result in people throwing away their kits without using them, but we also know those who've completed the screening kit find it easy and convenient," Melissa said.
"People over 50 might recognise some of the ‘poo villains' used in the campaign from movies such as The Exorcist, Dracula, and Silence of the Lambs.
"Our hope is that using scary poo in a humorous way will remove poo phobia and get people to ‘Stick it to Number 2', which is far easier than people think!"
Donna said she can't stress strongly enough how important the screening is.
"For some reason people seem to find ‘poo' a taboo subject - even though it's a natural part of everyone's life. It isn't difficult or messy to complete the screening. It's actually a very simple, clean process that takes very little time or effort," she said.
"It's amazing how many people I've discussed poo with since my diagnosis! I've spoken with so many people who've had some signs that could potentially indicate something of concern in their body but have still not completed the test.
"I've urged them to take the test and see their doctor; I've made it my aim in life to educate and warn as many people as possible about the importance of the testing and not ignoring warning signs."
This story was featured in our 2016 - 2017 Annual Review. To read more about our achievements over the past year and the inspiring people that have helped us along the way check out Annual Review here.