Rachael Bowel Cancer NZ ambassador

Rachael Ferguson – Community Ambassador

Less than two months after her wedding day, Rachael Ferguson, who’s super-fit and had competed in bodybuilding contests as recently as 2018, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer at just 32.

After visiting her GP last year because Rachael and her husband were planning to have a baby, she was sent for a blood test. It came back she was severely anaemic and had incredibly low iron levels. It was then Rachael realised she had recently noticed a little bit of blood in her stool. When she told her doctor the blood was bright red, they sent her for a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which looks at the lower part of a person’s colon. That was when Rachael’s rectal cancer was discovered.

“Even now I can replay it perfectly in my head. It was like an out of body experience, just totally surreal,” she said. Aside from having bloating, dizziness, and bright red blood in stool – she felt perfectly healthy, ‘a million dollars’ before her diagnosis.

Rachael is a proud ambassador for our charity Bowel Cancer NZ, and is urging Kiwis to take note of unexplained fatigue, weight loss and changes with their bowel habits. She says blood in the stool more than once a week, stomach cramps and changes in bowel movements – however insignificant they may seem – are all signs that should be checked with a doctor.

As a healthy 32-year-old, Rachael says her diagnosis came as a shock, especially given she had next to no symptoms but found out the cancer had been in her body “for multiple years”. Her diagnosis at a young age was also a surprise.

There’s a message she wants to get out: bowel cancer doesn’t just happen to older people.