“Bowel cancer is easily cured if it’s caught early. So it’s an absolute tragedy that so many Kiwis are dying from it.”
If you ever thought that you couldn’t do something, Kevin Biggar will have you thinking again! Kevin was a couch potato when he decided to take part in the 5,000km trans-Atlantic rowing race.
He then went on to achieve a much more formidable challenge as the first-ever Kiwi to complete an unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. Kevin has also co-hosted two TVNZ series, ‘First Crossings’ and ‘Intrepid NZ’, recreating the adventures of pioneering New Zealand explorers. Today, he’s best known as a dynamic and engaging motivational speaker, sharing his know-how about taking on tough, demanding challenges in both life and business.
Kevin’s life was dramatically impacted by bowel cancer in 2014 when his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer at age 70. “It was very sudden,” says Kevin. “Mum went to hospital in pain, where she was diagnosed, and then she passed away just a few weeks later.”
Kevin says that his Mum had “plenty of symptoms” leading up to her diagnosis that were not picked up. “She had tests for all sorts of other things, including giardia, but unfortunately, not for bowel cancer. By the time it was picked up, it was way too late.“
Since then, Kevin has been actively involved with Bowel Cancer NZ as an ambassador. He’s been an enthusiastic and highly visible participant in the St Clair Vineyard half marathon, a popular fundraiser that usually takes place in May (which unfortunately was cancelled last year due to COVID-19).
“I love to get involved, which is why I usually dress up for it – last time, I participated as ‘Elvis on stilts’. In previous years, I’ve been a minion, a dinosaur and a fairy. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s about raising awareness. Bowel Cancer NZ is such a great charity, and I want people to know about it.”
Now Kevin is planning to take on this year’s Move your Butt challenge, although he’s keep the exact nature of his challenge under wraps. “I’m really looking forward to it. Since I know I’m putting a whole month aside, I’m hoping to do something fairly transformative, track my progress along the way, share some tips and have a few laughs.”
Kevin’s high profile means he’s hoping to spread the word and raise awareness of bowel cancer through videos and social media updates. “The most important message is that no one should hesitate to go and see their doctor if they have symptoms – you’ve got nothing to lose by doing it and everything to gain,” he says. “It’s also important to make sure your doctor takes the possibility of bowel cancer seriously, as it can strike at any age.”
“Bowel cancer is the second most deadly cancer in New Zealand, but it’s easily cured if it’s caught early. So it’s an absolute tragedy that so many Kiwis are dying from it. I’m astonished that there’s any stigma left at all – hopefully, we’ve moved on from that.”
“We’re making huge strides with the screening programme – now we just need to get more people talking about it. Then our tragic bowel cancer statistics will start to move in the right direction.”