Former Black Caps fast bowler and cricket commentator Simon Doull and his wife Liana have joined Bowel Cancer NZ as ambassadors, because bowel cancer has touched their lives in many ways. Simon’s parents both died of bowel cancer and Liana was just 36 years old when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014.
“At the time, it was a huge shock,” says Liana of her diagnosis. I’d had no obvious symptoms, apart from being extremely tired all the time, but my life was very busy. There’s so much information about other types of cancer, but people don’t like talking about their toilet habits”. In fact, her specialist apologised to her later. “He said ‘I just don’t see people like you in my waiting room’. That’s why if there’s something I can do that helps another young person get their symptoms checked earlier, then I’ll be happy.”
“I’m forever grateful that my body told me that something wasn’t quite right – and that my GP pushed me to have a colonoscopy.”
Simon’s parents both died of bowel cancer, but, as is so common, he says his parents didn’t talk about those things. “Mum kept everything very hidden – she didn’t want me to worry as I was away overseas playing cricket at the time. When I came back only weeks later, she was in hospital and weighed only 35 kilos.” She was just 61 when she died. “She was fit and healthy until then, but she was of the generation that didn’t talk about these things – or go to the doctor.”
Simon’s Dad died around five years later in 2002. “He died 18 months after having an colonoscopy and operation. He originally went to the doctor about something else and the doctor recommended he have some tests done. When the diagnosis came back, it was a real shock.” Simon now gets tested every two years to ensure that any early signs of bowel cancer are caught early – while it’s still treatable.
Read more of Liana and Simon’s story