Hira Renata. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Hira Renata considers himself one of the lucky ones. He received an invitation to participate in the National Bowel Screening Programme this year and it may have saved his life.
The invitation letter for Hira arrived in the mail in June this year.
“‘Congratulations, you are one of the first to be a part of the National Bowel Screening Programme’” it said.
“My generation, especially men, don’t seem to think about needing to take any test,” Hira said. “We all think we will be fine.”
But Hira has a family history of cancer, and he knew better. His father passed away at 60 from cancer of the gullet and, of his father’s seven brothers, six of them have died from various cancers.
Hira has outlived his father by three years already. He recognises a few health issues he needs to be mindful of, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, while weight loss wouldn’t go amiss. However he had no bowel symptoms he was aware of.
Hira did his home bowel screening test on a Sunday, sending the test kit back in the mail in the free post envelope supplied the next day.
Not quite two weeks later he received a call saying he ‘shouldn’t panic’ but blood had been identified in his faecal sample and he needed to have a colonoscopy.
“I was told they only need to take a look, and this is all part of a normal process,” he said.
“But you still have those fears in the back of your mind.
“I had to let my boss know I needed time off work for the appointment,” Hira said. “His sister had been through the process previously, so he was very understanding.”
A colonoscopy requires three days preparation, including the need for a special diet.
“You need to stop eating for a day, then the next day you need to drink a lot of liquid that flushes your system. You need to stay at home – you can’t be anywhere else than as close to the toilet as possible!
“The colonoscopy itself is very quick and easy and was actually no worse than getting your teeth done at a dentist.”
Hira had surgery to remove a polyp.
“I was told to not worry, it was just to be on the safe side and the good thing was that it was found, removed and the job was done before it could turn into a problem,” Hira said.
“My wife and I had not included the children in the process, not wanting to cause them any anxiety or have them panic. However, the whanau knew something was up, and they called a family meeting.
“It was right that we talked through the process properly and took away their concerns. Now we realise we should have included them right from the start, when I first did the test.
“They were all very supportive once they knew.
“My goal is to be around for my whanau when they need me. I want to see my moko grow, at least to teenage years! My youngest has only just turned one.”
Hira credits his move to Wairarapa for his health.
“Wairarapa is so great to have this bowel screening opportunity,” he said. “Imagine if I hadn’t taken this test, what might have happened for me.
“My advice for anyone receiving the test pack in the mail, is simple. Do the check, it couldn’t be easier, and it saves lives.”