Stephen and Mary Ann’s story – You don’t have to be the tough guy

Stephen and Mary Ann talk about their experience with the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the importance of encouraging loved ones to do the test.


Stephen: I’m Stephen Napier, I’m 58, I’m from North Queensland and I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013.

I’ve always been fairly healthy. Um, I worked in outdoors, in the mines, truck driving and the likes. I got my kit when I was 55 years old.

My wife Mary Ann received the first one. She done her test and it came back good, clear.

I sorta hesitated with mine. I received it in the mail but I sort of put it in the background and I didn’t do it. And Mary Ann just sort of, um …

Mary Ann: come on, you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

Stephen: Yeah she just prompted me and …

Mary Ann: and he kept saying, next weekend when I’m home I’ll do it, next weekend when I’m home.

Stephen: Finally Mary Ann said no.

Mary Ann: Come now you’re going to do it.

Stephen: You’re going to do it, you know. So I did it. And when I did do it, it was easy, it was simple, it wasn’t hard at all, you know but, so that was just that concept that I don’t know that it was somehow going to be messy and yuck and …

Mary Ann: Yeah but I kept reassuring you that it wasn’t because I’d already done it myself.

Stephen: (Laughs) I should have listened to my wife, so yeah, anyway (laughs). Well after we done the test it was a couple of weeks later, got a letter in the mail. It said that we had an occult blood, positive blood test, uh, result. We spoke to our GP, she was really good, she informed me of what it all meant, what, you know, how it all worked. She then referred me on to the GE nurse at the Mackay based hospital.

I think a week or two weeks later we actually went in for the colonoscopy. The treatment itself was very simple, um, it didn’t hurt or wasn’t invasive or anything like that. Um, yeah. Yeah I was really surprised with the result when I got the letter from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program that it was positive because I had no symptoms at all.

Mary Ann: No, none at all.

Stephen: Nothing.

Mary Ann: When he did have it positive I was a little bit concerned but I was also excited that I had encouraged him enough to do the test, because it yeah, it would have been pretty dismal for me if I hadn’t encouraged him. Um, not only myself, our children, our grandchildren, would have missed out too. So, I encourage anyone to encourage their husbands. You know, you don’t have to be the tough guy that, you know, it is simple, it is really easy to do. Yeah.

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Mary Ann had done her screening test and had a negative result. So, when her husband Stephen kept putting off doing his, she encouraged him until he finally did the test. Once he did the test, he thought it was easy. When his result came back positive he was able to get treatment. Now his children and grandchildren won’t miss out.

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