Kura urges people to take the bowel screening test
25/02/2019 4:00:02 p.m.

Monday 25 February 2019

Kura urges people to take the bowel screening test


Rotorua woman and former Rotorua Lakes High Deputy Principal Kura Hingston is in her fourth year following surgery to remove bowel cancer.

It wasn’t her first brush with cancer, she had previously survived both uterine and breast cancer, but it wasn’t until a biopsy from her bowel cancer surgery was sent away for testing that she found she carries the gene for Lynch Syndrome.

That means Kura has a high risk of colon cancer as well as a range of other cancers. Once Kura knew about Lynch Syndrome, her siblings were tested and five of the 10 brothers and sisters were found to have the genetic condition. Luckily none of her four adult children carries the gene.

Kura says in hindsight, it is unfortunate that the biopsy from her uterine cancer surgery was not sent away for testing as it’s likely she could have found out back then, about having Lynch syndrome.

Kura had surgery at Rotorua Hospital in March 2015 to remove the cancer in her bowel. She needed to go back to theatre a number of times and was in hospital for several months while she began the slow journey to recovery.

Kura now realises she was very ill and ‘on the edge’ but says the severity of how unwell she was didn’t really hit her at the time.

She says she withdrew into herself, and believes the claustrophobia and anxiety attacks she has since suffered are part of what she experienced when she nearly died, and had to be placed in an induced coma.

She credits husband Kerry as being her ‘rock’ throughout her illnesses, saying his constant presence to support her meant he was fully aware and familiar with most aspects of her care, and her needs.

Kura adds her four adult children, sons-in law, daughter in law and mokopuna played a major role in her slow climb back to health, with their visits, communication with hospital staff, sleepovers, bed baths and home visits.

“I felt I was in good hands knowing our children were actively assisting with my care and watching over their Dad.”

Having been diagnosed in early 2015, Kura says it was late in 2017 that she began to feel hopeful and more confident of beating the bowel cancer.

“If I can get to five years – 2020, then I have a good chance of recovery.”

“I am just glad to be alive. I can’t believe how I took it all for granted before. I am glad to have my family and feel very grateful for everything I had, and I didn’t really feel like that before.”

Kura is a huge supporter of the National Bowel Screening Programme that starts rolling out across the Lakes DHB area this month (February 2019) for people aged 60-74.

Looking back, she was very confused with the various symptoms she experienced prior to her bowel cancer diagnosis, realising she had no idea what was happening to her. She had no knowledge of what bowel cancer was and it never entered her mind that she could possibly have another cancer.

She now regrets that her confusion steered her towards her computer and Dr Google, which saw her diagnose herself, with Dr Google’s ‘help’ as being gluten intolerant!

“Taking heed of Dr Google meant I delayed seeking medical advice and it nearly killed me.”

She is pleased the bowel screening programme will see much more information about bowel cancer readily available, which might alert some people to the need to go and see their GP.

And Kura says if people feel they aren’t being listened to, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second medical opinion.

She says a great thing about the roll out of the bowel screening programme is that people can perform the simple test procedure at home, adding this will save many lives if the cancer can be caught early enough.

“One of the great things about the FIT test for bowel screening is that people can have it in the privacy of their own homes and I urge anyone receiving the invitation to do the test to do it,” says Kura Hingston.

“Having the FIT test for bowel cancer screening is a great first step for Maori people and for anyone who is quite a private person.”

The National Bowel Screening Programme is a free programme to help detect bowel cancer.
It is being offered every two years to men and women aged 60 to 74 years* who are eligible for publicly funded health care.
Information on who is eligible for publicly funded health services is available on the Ministry of Health website 
or by phoning 0800 924 432.

If you are eligible to take part, you will be sent:

  •  an invitation letter
  •  a consent form
  •  a free bowel screening test kit, with instructions on how to use it.