“It’s really important to get the message about bowel cancer through to the younger generation too.”

Dionne and her family are challenging themselves to do 100 squats a day for the Move your Butt challenge in June. “I hate squats, so I decided to do the thing I hate the most, so it’s a real challenge.” Dionne’s 13 and 11 year-old boys are joining her in the challenge in memory of Dionne’s father, who died of bowel cancer around three years ago.

“My Dad, who was in Scotland, had symptoms that kept being put down to other issues, for example hip pain that was explained away as arthritis. By the time the diagnosis process started, it was too late to cure. He had a couple of years of chemotherapy, but by this stage the cancer was unbeatable. My Dad said he’d had an amazing life: he’d seen lots of the world; been at the forefront of great advances in his industry; brought up four wonderful children (I’m sure those were his words!) and enjoyed a great partnership with his wife. But he was far too young –in his early 60s when the cancer took hold.”

Dionne believes it’s really important to get the message about bowel cancer through to the younger generation too. “If you can just do a few little things now,no matter how old or young you are –like eating more veggies –it can make a difference. Kids are sitting down too much, playing PlayStation every chance they can. So it’s about all of us getting off our butts and getting more exercise, as families.”

After Dionne’s Dad died, she became concerned that she might have bowel cancer too. “It was probably psychosomatic, but I’d been having some niggles and pains. But they wouldn’t test me for it because I was only 42 at the time.” So Dionne saved up and had a private colonoscopy–and fortunately she was fine.

“I felt really let down by the public system at the time,” says Dionne. “That’s why I want to be proactive and help raise funds and awareness for bowel cancer. It’s the second highest cancer killer in New Zealand. We have our regular mammograms–I believe bowel cancer checks should be easily available to more people too.”