Born in 1985, JR began experiencing irregular and loose bowel movements, bleeding, and constipation in his early twenties.
For several years, doctors told JR there was nothing wrong.
When he insisted on further tests, JR was told he was “too young to have bowel cancer”.
Eventually, JR received a referral for a colonoscopy but found himself repeatedly being pushed to the bottom of the public hospital waitlist.
It was only after JR's wife Jo-Ann contacted the Health Minister on her husband’s behalf that JR received an appointment.
On June 8, 2012, results confirmed JR had bowel cancer at the “too young” age of 26.
Karen said prior to that, she and her family had the mindset that “it will never happen to us”.
Following surgery to remove the tumour from his bowel, JR began chemotherapy.
On March 26, 2013, he was given the all-clear and told he was in remission, but the celebrations didn’t last long.
“By October 2014, the primary cancer had returned in the colon and other tumours had developed,” said Karen.
JR decided to have no further treatment.
“Our son-in-law endured a painful slow death, witnessed by his wife, children, family, and friends. He would not wish that upon his worst enemy,” Karen said.
“What JR would want [is for] doctors to be more proactive and refer patients if any symptoms appear.”
“Don’t let a doctor ever say someone is too young to have bowel cancer."
"Bowel cancer does not discriminate, it is insidious,” said Karen, “It is deadly!”
JR passed away at home in December 2015, with his wife Jo-ann, daughter Jayde (aged 11) and son Rylan (aged 6) by his side.
He was just 30 years old.
Andrew was selected at random from over 10,000 entries in September and won the $5000 Golden Nugget.
“We will keep it in JR’s honour,” Karen said.
“JR would think that was kind’ a cool in a very funny way. Bloody shit he was!”
Bowel cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among those aged 25 – 29. Bowel cancer and brain cancer together account for the greatest number of cancer deaths for those aged 30 – 34.
To support the growing number of young Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, Bowel Cancer Australia developed the Never2Young advocacy initiative which provides resources uniquely designed for younger people, to help them better understand their bowel cancer risk and take appropriate action.
For details head to nevertooyoung.org.au