As you might guess from my page title, I suffer from ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease, similar to Crohns). While manageable, this puts me at a higher risk of developing bowel cancer - a risk that is exacerbated by the fact that bowel cancer already runs in my family.
However, my reasons for supporting Decembeard are not just about me.
A few years ago, a friend of mine lost a close friend of his to bowel cancer. Dean was only 25 years old when he was diagnosed with the cancer that would prevent him from reaching his 27th birthday.
Last year, my friend Liz lost the battle against bowel cancer, at the age of 32.
The thing is, these stories are not uncommon. Many assume bowel cancer only affects old men. However, this is a common misconception, as bowel cancer affects men and women equally, and can strike at any age.
I think a lot of people aren't aware of the importance of speaking with their doctors about any persistent changes in bowel activity. Bowel cancer is really easy to diagnose and treat if it's caught early - in these cases, treatment is successful more than 90% of the time. But if it's left too late... the story is often a sad one.
I hope to change that.
This is my third year participating in Decembeard, and while I know I will look mighty strange for the month of December, I hope that it will help to raise awareness, as well as some much needed funds for Bowel Cancer Australia. These funds go toward providing support for bowel cancer sufferers and their loved ones, educating people on bowel cancer symptoms and the importance of detection, and researching improved methods of detection and treatment to help reduce Australia's bowel cancer death toll. Check out their website to learn more about the work they do.
So please, donate to Decembeard and help spread the word by sharing my story, and the stories of others, with your friends, family and colleagues. Every little bit helps, and it could save a life!
Past fundraising pages
Decembeard 2016: https://decembeard2016.everydayhero.com/au/TheGirlWithColitis
Decembeard 2015: https://decembeard.everydayhero.com/au/ni-avellir