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Be the face of Decembeard® Australia 2018!

Decembeard® isn’t just hair-raising, it’s about fundraising to help save lives and beat bowel cancer.

Your support of Decembeard® Australia directly contributes to Bowel Cancer Australia’s work, providing practical and emotional support for the growing number of Australians affected by the disease, from prevention and early diagnosis to research, quality treatment and care.

Would you like to share your bowel cancer story to help raise awareness?

To help challenge misconceptions associated with bowel cancer we need your help to spread the word!

Whether you are living with bowel cancer, beyond bowel cancer or know someone who is, we want to hear from you!

To share your story, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with Me, My Beard and Why (for men) or Me, Decembeard and Why (for women) in the subject line or submit your details using our contact us web form

Me, My Beard and Why - Grant
In September this year, my Mum passed away after a long battle with bowel cancer. She was diagnosed after completing the home test kit, sent out to her at age 65.
Me, My Beard and Why - Robert
I was originally diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 after not feeling well for a couple of months.
Me, My Beard and Why - Colin
I, like many folk, have worn many hats in many varied endeavours, working in industries from petroleum and energy, insurance and education and farming.
Me, My Beard and Why - Mark
Early in 2004, in a small and smoky live music bar in Collingwood called ‘The Yak’, Mark met Vanessa.
Me, My Beard and Why - Grant R
It all began last year with all the tell-tale signs. Sore stomach, bloating, IBS symptoms, then progressed to bleeding and mucus in my stools. 
Me, My Beard and Why - Jamie
In April 2015, 5 weeks after my son was born, I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.
Me, My Beard and Why - Michael
My aunt had the biggest heart, the most generous and genuine person you could ever come across. 
Me, My Beard and Why - Ryan
When my wife was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer in 2015 it was shocking.
Me, Decembeard and Why - Julie
I have always been an avid historian and had taken a keen interest in genealogy.
Me, My Beard and Why - Chris O
My name is Chris and I survived bowel cancer at age 42.
Me, My Beard and Why - Hugo
My name is Hugo Toovey and I am 27 years old.
Me, My Beard and Why - David
As a triathlete competing in Ironman events consisting 2.8k swim 180k bike and 42k run, I was physically fit.
Me, My Beard and Why - Andrew M
My name is Andrew and I am a bowel cancer survivor.
Me, My Beard and Why - Tino
At 58 years of age I had suffered from Colitis for at least 25 years, but I had been relatively healthy without any medication for about the last 10 years.
Me, My Beard and Why - Kevin
I only did the test kit on a stick when I was 56 in 2010.
Me, My Beard and Why - Chris B
Six years ago, this Easter, I had a colonoscopy for the first time, even though I had no symptoms - my wife had to have one so why not me.
Me, My Beard and Why - Tom A
I am living with stage 4 rectal cancer. It is in my lungs and is inoperable. I am terminal and undergoing fortnightly chemo to slow things down. 
Me, My Beard and Why - Charles D
Three years ago, I returned to Australia after living and working in Quebec, Canada. I went to my local GP to arrange a check-up with all the usual blood tests.
Me, My Beard and Why - Paul
My name is Paul, I am 52 and I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2016.
Me, My Beard and Why - Darren
I'm 45 and six weeks ago I found out through a colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer that required immediate treatment.
Me, My Beard and Why - Peter
At 2:40pm on 6th November 2009, 20mins before the race that apparently stops the nation, my life was turned upside down.
Me, My Beard and Why - Russell
Bowel cancer is something very close to home.
Me, My Beard and Why - Tony
I can clearly remember in 1971, as a fourteen-year-old boy my maternal grandmother, Nana, being diagnosed with cancer.
Me, My Beard and Why - John
I am taking part in Decembeard as it is something close to my heart.
Me, My Beard and Why - Tom
A living example of how research can benefit bowel cancer patients
Me, My Beard and Why - Andrew
Decembeard® - the perfect platform to help others
Me, My Beard and Why - Wayne
Wearing his beard with fatherly pride this Decembeard®
Me, Decembeard and Why - Ashleigh
I am a nurse and a midwife, a daughter and a sister.
Me, My Beard and Why - Daniel
I'm Daniel, I’m 33 years old and I’m growing a beard this December.
Me, My Beard and Why - Beards for Daniel
Daniel was a much-loved son, brother-in-law, husband, father and friend.
Me, My Beard and Why - Anthony
I first heard about Decembeard® during December 2013, around 6 months after an event that was one of the hardest I’ve experienced in my life.
Me, My Beard and Why - Sam
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Me, Decembeard and Why - Jocelyn
My husband Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2014, after returning home from an overseas business trip.
Me, My Beard and Why - Dave
I want to start by saying that bowel cancer is a truly horrible disease which affects both men and women almost equally.
Me, My Beard and Why - Damien
When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer I did not have enough time to feel ‘sad’ or ‘worry’ too much.
Me, My Beard and Why - Chad
The end of the year is fast approaching and so is Bowel Cancer Australia’s beardtastic fundraiser, Decembeard®!
Me, My Beard and Why - Josh
Penrith Panthers winger Josh Mansour has committed to shave off his iconic beard to raise funds and awareness in the fight against bowel cancer.
Me, My Beard and Why - Chris
In a bid to get people talking about the cancer that will affect one in 11 Australian men in their lifetime, Bowel Cancer Australia is encouraging Aussies everywhere to get chin-spired and sign-up for Decembeard® this December at www.decembeard.org.au.
Me, Decembeard and Why - Michelle
16 August 2016 - The day I was told the news no one ever wants to hear.
Me, My Beard and Why - Grant

In September this year, my Mum passed away after a long battle with bowel cancer. She was diagnosed after completing the home test kit, sent out to her at age 65.

Mum toiled away for 5 years and was still a fighter all the way to the end. Her stoic attitude and strength through the whole process was an inspiration to her large family and social group. Her classic reply after each setback or return of the disease after a seemingly successful surgery was to just get on with living.

My wife, who is an experienced hospital social worker and has worked for years in that field, was able to provide great support and insight into the impact that someone dying from cancer can have on their loved ones and on the need that some of the lesser known strains of the illness have for greater awareness.

Even though its Australia’s 2nd biggest cancer killer, people generally aren’t aware of how important and easy it is to get checked early and take action to prevent it from spreading. That’s why when we came across the Decembeard campaign I decided to get on board.

People that know me will agree that I’m not known for having any facial hair growing prowess, so I suspect I may have a few surprised faces by the end of December, including my own – I’m not sure what will sprout!

But what I do know is that by doing this, I will raise some important funds and awareness around my family and friends to get checked, not just for bowel cancer, but to also just go for that check up with you GP – particularly when you think it might be one of those embarrassing scenarios.

Me, My Beard and Why - Robert

I was originally diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2011 after not feeling well for a couple of months.

Before the end of that year, I had experienced chemo, radiotherapy, numerous tests, the removal operation, had a temporary stoma fitted and was on post-operative chemo – quite a few months.

All went well over the next two years or so, the stoma was reversed and progress was being made, then a secondary cancer was found.

A lung resection followed and I have just passed the two year mark, successfully this time.

I teamed up with Bowel Cancer Australia quite early, they are very supportive and all funds are very wisely used, which is why I am happy to support Decembeard this year.

Although I do not have a beard and will need to grow one, I do have a moustache, which has been there for a very long time. I have had my Mo for over 40 years - but it has to go! So on January 1st 2018 all facial hair will be removed to support this campaign.

Please support Bowel Cancer Australia with this initiative to help them to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Colin

I, like many folk, have worn many hats in many varied endeavours, working in industries from petroleum and energy, insurance and education and farming.

Working as a professional and as a laborer, in rural and city Australia, with organisation for profit and not-for-profit, and federal, local and state government engagements. Now I continue another endeavor, to help us better understand a disease of many forms: To rid us all of bowel cancer.

My fight and my engagement in this arena to eradicate this insidious disease is not alone, as I walk with many others who also have sought to overcome a path not clear of disease and infections brought on by reasons not well understood. I will do my best to overcome bowel cancer by supporting research and social engagement on this indiscriminate imposter.

People, like you and like me, and those we love and many we may not know are inflicted and impacted directly by this imposter encroaching upon us; from the Esophagus through the colon, the passage is not always clear.

You can help clear this path for better health and wellbeing.

Australia, we all need to support research to eradicate bowel cancer. All people from the North West Shelf and Timor Sea, to Gabo, and Bruni islands, and Flinders, and Kangaroo islands, and to Busselton to Arnhem Land and Cape York, bowel cancer is indiscriminant; let’s all help and give our support.

Go to decembeard.org.au and support Bowel Cancer Australia fight to eradicate bowel cancer for all Australians no matter where you live.

Help your loved ones; and help you and your friends: Grow a beard and donate to Bowel Cancer Australia at decembeard.org.au. From little ones to older folk bowel cancer is indiscriminate.

Me, My Beard and Why - Colin

Me, My Beard and Why - Mark

Early in 2004, in a small and smoky live music bar in Collingwood called ‘The Yak’, Mark met Vanessa.

Brought together by a shared love of live music, they quickly developed a belief that life was mostly about sharing experiences and so they lived their lives ‘doing things’ together with family and friends.

“Even the simplest of activities was all that was needed,” said Mark. “Ness always made a big effort to turn it into something special.”

Mark and Ness were married for 9 years, during which time Mark had the privilege of becoming a father to Jess and Liam, Ness’s two children from a previous marriage.

In 2014, during the end of a trip to Japan, Ness indicated her digestion was ‘not quite right’ and that her tummy was feeling uncomfortable.

“Ness was always one to soldier on, but she ended up in the Emergency Department where a Gastroenterologist performed a Gastroscopy,” Mark said.

She was diagnosed with Acute Gastritis and was prescribed Nexium.

Approximately two weeks later, Ness had what was to be a ‘routine’ colonoscopy.

That was when a large tumour was discovered.

Within three days, Ness had two-thirds of her colon removed.

Following the surgery, Mark and Ness met with her oncologist.

“He outlined the chemo regime that Ness would go on in order to ‘mop up’ the spread,” said Mark.

“We were told the biopsy results after surgery were not good.

Ness was diagnosed with Stage III bowel cancer.

“The cancer had invaded the entire bowel wall structure and early signs of spread were already present – it was in a large number of lymph nodes already,” Mark said.

“But the confidence from all her medical staff was high and that was reassuring.”

Nonetheless, Mark felt what he described as “unbelievable fear and uncertainty”.

“My fear went from the thought that Ness would become very sick and frail to thinking this could be potentially terminal,” said Mark.

Prior to his wife’s diagnosis, Mark knew very little about bowel cancer.

“I thought it was not something we would need to worry about – being so young and healthy,” Mark said.

The learning curve during her treatment was steep, not just for Mark, but also for Ness.

“We thought Ness would lose her hair very quickly on chemo.

“It thinned, but she never did lose all of her hair,” said Mark.

“We had heard of some people being able to continue normal work and all sorts of things, but Ness was really out of action for the entire first week of her treatment and only really came good at the end of her second week, just before the treatment cycle would start again,” Mark said.

“The incredible lack of energy and just how much chemo affected Ness was tough,” said Mark.

“And then there was ‘chemo brain’. . . never knew about that!”

Mark and Vanessa’s daughter, Jess is studying communication design.

As a way of utilising her skills and her mother’s personal experience, she created a video for a university assignment, which she has kindly shared with Bowel Cancer Australia.


Following six months of chemotherapy treatment, Ness was declared NED, with clear scans.

“We thought. . . imagined. . . hoped we would have a good number of years before having to worry about cancer again, but in November 2015, her blood numbers spiked a tumour was discovered in her liver during a PET scan,” Mark said.

“Surgery again and more chemo. . . this time for four or five months.”

“Once again, Ness’ disease responded to the treatment and the scans were clear – NED,” said Mark.

But in September 2016, following another blood test and a visit to the liver surgeon, Ness was told they had found cancer in her lymphatic glands at the rear of her abdomen.

“We were told this was non-operable, and being that is was discovered by a surgeon – this sounded bad,” Mark said.

“However, when we met with our oncologist, he was confident that radiation treatment could potentially eliminate the cancer.”

“We met a radiation oncologist, who was great, and he mapped out a course – 6-weeks of daily radiation hits, and at the same time Ness was put onto oral chemo tablets,” said Mark.

Ness became extremely unwell during the radiation and pain started to become a major factor and the cancer in her lymph nodes did not respond to the radiation.

“It was at this time that we started to come to the realisation that this was potentially not a battle we were destined to win,” Mark said.

“Her oncologist was comforting us, saying that with a measure of chemotherapy Ness’ disease could be ‘managed’ and that some patients live for many relatively normal years in this scenario,” said Mark.

But within a few months, there was evidence of spread into Ness’ lungs and the cancer had returned in her liver.

“It slowly became apparent that Ness’ cancer was too resilient, too aggressive, and wasn’t really being controlled,” Mark said, “and Ness was feeling worse and worse on constant chemo, and the pain was increasing.”

Toward mid-2017, Ness was beginning to suggest stopping treatment.

“We were all still hopeful that we would have her with us for Christmas and beyond, but that hope was sadly extinguished,” Mark said.

Ness passed away this October.

When asked what Mark would say to others whose loved ones had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, Mark’s advice was simple: “Seek, and accept the support and strength in the friends and loved ones around you,” said Mark.

“We had loads of people offering us help, and we eventually did need it, but actually accepting help early was surprisingly difficult."

“Don’t let your pride and ego hold you back and remember, bowel cancer is NOT an ‘old person’s disease,’” Mark said.


Bowel Cancer is Australia's 2nd biggest cancer killer, and it does not discriminate. Young, old, male, female - this is a cancer that hits many of any group.

I only really started growing a full beard when I taking care of Ness became more ‘full time’… and it wasn’t so much ‘growing a beard’, as more like I just stopped shaving. I almost always had some form of facial hair, but it was usually finely groomed and short, so the ‘bushman’ Decembeard is a little different for me.

Your support of Decembeard® Australia directly contributes to Bowel Cancer Australia’s work, providing practical and emotional support for the growing number of Australians affected by the disease, from prevention and early diagnosis to research, quality treatment and care.

Please consider helping this much needed cause. Every little bit helps.

Me, My Beard and Why - Grant R

It all began last year with all the tell-tale signs. Sore stomach, bloating, IBS symptoms, then progressed to bleeding and mucus in my stools. 

I went to three different GP’s and it was dismissed by all of them as “haemorrhoids” or a “fissure” or “piles etc.”

Can’t be cancer, your too young I heard a lot. Don’t google your symptoms they said it all lead to cancer! Ha what a joke.

I knew inside I wasn’t well, so off I went for the 4th visit to the doctors. I demanded a colonoscopy and a stool sample screening test. The stool sample came back negative.

I took a few weeks to finally get in to see the gastroenterologist and after a brief chat he knew too something wasn’t right, so he squeezed me in for a colonoscopy as soon as he could the following week.

When I woke from my slumber after the colonoscopy, in very direct terms I was told I had rectal cancer. Wow doesn’t it hit you right in the face. So scary. I have a young family and a wonderful wife. Not knowing if I was going live or die, all these horrible thoughts go through your mind. My kids Harry (6) and Pearl (3) and wife Kim were so great helping me deal with this.

Two weeks later, on Valentine’s Day I’m in hospital for an ultra-low anterior resection. Big 10hr operation and lost a fair wack of bowel and my rectum. Lying in bed on my birthday a few days later, on the 17th February waiting to hear if it was terminal or had spread was agonising. I thought I was pretty tough, until I found myself sitting and crying in hospital alone waiting for whatever news was coming. Possible unknown risks included all functions in the manhood area, urinating and prostate issues. Thankfully all that settled down and worked after a long time!

Having a stoma was horrible for those few long months and I never liked it so when the day came to get it reversed it was awesome! I have not been right ever since, both physically and mentally, and some days are harder than others. 12-15 Gastro stop tablets a day just to not soil myself is both humiliating and demeaning, and not good at all for one’s self esteem.

Because of this and no fault of my own, I had to stop work. It has cost us our business, and everything associated with it. I had close my electrical company which I had built from the ground up, lay off all my staff and sell the house, my warehouse/office and cars. This has also been so very difficult because believe it or not, there a few clients (that I thought were mates) took advantage of the situation and decided not to pay their outstanding invoices. These things compound the stress and anxiety and anger I have already!

I couldn’t have done this without the wonderful support of my wife Kim who has gone above and beyond to support, help, nurture and love me through this and I love her and can’t thank her enough. Coming home from hospital and painful check-ups/pelvic floor physio’s OR as I call them my “digital violations appointments” was made so much easier knowing my wife and kids were there ready for me with big smiles and a cuddle. This event has crushed my hopes and dreams. However, most importantly, it has taught me how much I love and appreciate my beautiful wife and family and how important the things are that you take for granted AND what is actually important versus what you think is important. The wonderful help and support I got from family and friends as well was amazing. Be kind to people because you just don't know what they are going through.

A big shout out to the living legend and most of all to the best surgeon Dr Chris Gillespie from Brisbane Colorectal at the Mater Private. Thank you for your professional approach and wonderful surgery skills to remove the tumour! The nurses on Ward 10 North at the Mater Private were so wonderful and caring and I thank them so much as well. Having been there for three surgeries this year you get to know them, and I really like them!

With all of this going on, it is why I have been active in anything I can to raise awareness for bowel cancer. Selling ribbons, fundraising and cake sales with my wonderful Stoma Nurses Louise and Eric at the Mater Private, and now getting involved in Decembeard.

Go and get a check-up please ASAP! Here's to new dreams and beginnings and opportunities!

Me, My Beard and Why - Jamie

In April 2015, 5 weeks after my son was born, I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.

My doctor misdiagnosed me saying I was too healthy and young to have cancer.

But because my son had just been born I thought it was best to go for a colonoscopy where they found a 4cm tumour in my rectum.

18 months later after 19 weeks of chemotherapy, 7 weeks of radiotherapy, 22 weeks with a colostomy bag and 2 surgeries, I feel better than ever.

After so many dark days I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever be able to feel this good.

So no matter how hard things may get, try and stay positive and focused, and hold on to hope.

You are all a reminder of how much good there is still left in the world.

I’m participating in Decembeard again this year to help Bowel Cancer Australia, who wonderfully helps others affected by this horrible disease.

Keep up the fantastic work everybody!

There’s still time to show your support in helping to raise awareness and funds to beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Michael

My aunt had the biggest heart, the most generous and genuine person you could ever come across. 

My world was flipped upside down when she lost her battle to Bowel Cancer, less than three weeks after turning 44. She spent her birthday and last days in the hospital in palliative care with her nearest and dearest around her.

No words could articulate how this progressive disease had adversely affected our lives. I looked around and realised the obvious – that time doesn't stop for anybody and thought of all the things that I could, would and should have done to save my aunt, or at least prolong her life until she could see her two girls grow up to become young adults and her teenage boy mature into a man.

I quickly learned of how treatable and preventable bowel cancer was, if detected early. And how easily abdominal pain could be overlooked or misdiagnosed. My aunt was turned away by her General Practitioner after giving birth to her second daughter. If only she had undertaken a colonoscopy to surgically remove the polyps before they developed into cancerous tumours, things would have taken a different turn.

When I came across Decembeard, I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness of this curable disease through early detection and in turn, save precious lives. I encourage families to talk about stool movements, abnormalities and tests. I hope that no other families would have to go through the heartache that my family and I did, and through much needed research, one day Bowel Cancer will be a thing of the past.

Me, My Beard and Why - Ryan

When my wife was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer in 2015 it was shocking.

Sarah was an active person who’d just entered her 40’s, she led a healthy lifestyle, she ate well, wasn’t overweight and had no family history of bowel cancer.

What she did have were persistent ‘gastro-like’ symptoms consistent with some sort of stomach bug that had lasted several weeks, an aching back and cramping pain in her side which didn’t seem to abate, inexplicable tiredness and, luckily, a GP who ordered some blood tests. Leading to a trip to hospital emergency (her iron levels were critically low) and ultimately a meeting with a gastroenterologist who organised and performed a colonoscopy.

Within a month of the cancer being discovered, she had surgery to completely remove her colon (ileo-rectal anastomosis) and then after six weeks of recovery from this major surgery she was put on an intensive 6-month chemotherapy regime.

A few weeks before her symptoms emerged, Sarah had left her job of 20 years and decided to spend the next 12 months looking after our 3-year-old daughter and watching her grow. Instead, the next 12 months involved life-saving surgery, intensive chemo and a long recovery period after.

This all sounds quite horrific and terrible I know, but when I look back at that time the one thing I think, is how lucky we are and how thankful I am.

Sarah is now in remission and on her way back to leading a normal life. She is back working and spending time with me and our daughter. I am so happy to have my wife back to being herself and for my daughter to have her mum … enough said.

We are lucky, because this may not have been the case. It wouldn’t have been the case if Sarah ignored her symptoms and had not gone to the GP. It wouldn’t have been the case if she hadn’t quickly been diagnosed and had an amazing medical team through both her surgery and her chemotherapy journey.

I am happy to get involved in Decembeard on Sarah’s behalf and spread the message that if bowel cancer is detected early enough, there is a fantastic chance of successful treatment. Hopefully by raising awareness, we can also raise funds for Bowel Cancer Australia and help support vital research. As one of the lucky ones, it’s the least I can do.

Me, Decembeard and Why - Julie

I have always been an avid historian and had taken a keen interest in genealogy.

I was tracing my family tree and endeavouring to find out where I came from and details about my ancestors (occupations, where they lived, how they died etc).

I found that bowel cancer popped up frequently. My grandfather had passed away from it in 1978. Two cousins had been diagnosed in their 50's.

I noticed that my own bowel habits had changed slightly. I had only just turned 40 so I wasn't overly concerned, but the words 'bowel cancer' were stuck in my head.

I spoke to my GP and he said that given my age it was unlikely I would have bowel cancer, but given my family history it was possible. He supported my decision when I asked for a colonoscopy.

After the colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer. I had a total colectomy and then 12 cycles of chemotherapy. I now have regular colonoscopies and will continue to do so.

I feel as though this journey has changed me in ways that I could never have imagined. I have always been active in my community but this has motivated me to speak publicly about my own situation.

I encourage others to be tested and hold an annual fundraiser to support research through Bowel Cancer Australia.

I don't ever want anyone to ever have to go through what I did unnecessarily.

I have received volunteer acknowledgement awards and also Citizen of the Year for my work in the community.

I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and tell people to check their bums :)

Me, My Beard and Why - Chris O

My name is Chris and I survived bowel cancer at age 42.

I had no family history and was fit and healthy. It was detected after I passed a lot of blood and had a colonoscopy.

My world turned upside down after they told me I had cancer.

I was put on a six-week radiation treatment to reduce the cancer before the first big operation when they cut a section of my bowel and put an ileostomy bag on so my bowel could heal.
After three months of living with the ileostomy bag they were able to successfully do a reversal.

I’m back to feeling close to normal and living life close to how I was before the diagnosis.

Join Chris, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Hugo

My name is Hugo Toovey and I am 27 years old.

Having faced two different types of cancer (testicular and bowel), spent countless hours in hospitals, had six major operations (including having my testicle, all my abdominal lymph nodes and my colon removed), had months of chemotherapy and also struggled at times mentally...I understand how important our health is, and how quickly it can change.

I want the younger demographic to realise they aren’t invincible.

My mission in life is to encourage all the young men and women out there to be more in tune with their bodies, to learn to know what is ‘normal’, and to go get checked if something isn’t right. There is no shame in seeking help.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Early detection is crucial... it saved my life.

This is my story of survival, heartbreak, and my passion to make a difference to the lives of other young men and women.

One nut, half a gut

In 2013, I was a young, fit and naive 21 year old in my final year of Army training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. My life was, by all accounts, pretty normal.

That was until it took an unexpected turn. I had a lump on my testicular, but like most 21 year olds, I didn't really think anything of it. I eventually saw the doctor, and my whole life changed that instant after being told I had testicular cancer. I was only 21? How can I even get cancer that young? I eventually found out testicular cancer is the ‘young man’s cancer - most common in the ages of 16-30’. Then why had I never heard of this?

Once I came to grips with everything, I went off for surgery to remove my affected testicle. For the majority of testicular cancer cases, surgery to remove the affected testicle is usually the only treatment that is required. That is why the importance of early detection is crucial... and something I soon learned the hard way. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to my abdominal lymph nodes. I still managed to graduate as a Lieutenant, but my Army career was put on old, and I commenced 4 months of intensive chemotherapy back home in Adelaide.

It was a bitter sweet feeling... on one hand I had just graduated as a Lieutenant in the Australian Army after 4 years of arduous training, but on the other hand I was about to undertake months of chemotherapy.

After a long and draining 4 months, the day had finally come for my final scan to see if the Chemo has done its job...unfortunately, not quite. I still required RPLND - an 8 hour operation to remove all my abdominal lymph nodes. After an extended recovery in ICU, it was very much a case of taking it one day at a time. After weeks in hospital, I was finally discharged, and I embarked on a very lengthy recovery and rehab process.

It wasn't until the end of 2017 when I was finally medically upgraded in the Army (fit for deployment), and promoted to Captain. After what I had been through, it was a huge achievement, and I was extremely proud. The next major milestone came in June 2018 when I had my 5 yearly clear scan. This felt like even a greater achievement than being promoted to Captain, as I was finally in complete remission. It was a strange feeling, but I felt free...and for the first time, in a very long time, I felt normal again.

Unfortunately, this feeling was only short lived... and 2 months later, my whole world came crashing down when I heard some unwanted familiar words from the doctor.

It was in August this year when I started experiencing discomfort with my bowel. I have always had a sensitive gut, but my bowel movements seemed worse than normal. I booked myself into the doctor and I requested if I could have a colonoscopy. It wasn't until I received a call from the doctor's rooms the following day when I knew something was wrong. I was asked to see the doctor that afternoon. It was an all too familiar feeling, and I felt physically sick.

The doctor didn't beat around the bush... and just said it. “Mate, I am sorry to have to tell you this, but you have bowel cancer.” Bowel Cancer? How? I am too young? I just had a clear scan for testicular cancer? I literally asked him if he was sure he had the right person... unfortunately he did. I walked out of the doctors rooms and completely broke down. It was like déjà vu...I was absolutely devastated.

I met with a colorectal surgeon, and booked in for surgery 3 days later to remove my colon. The surgeon did an amazing job and removed about 90% of my colon, which was riddled with cancer.

I was a few days into recovery and I had just had my catheter and my nasal gastric tube removed. I was sitting in shorts and a t-shirt, I was eating a Turkey sandwich, and I appeared to be recovering well. Unfortunately, I never take the easy road...

My Dad had just arrived to visit me, with the plan to help me discharge from hospital and settle me in at home. He had probably only been at the hospital for less than 1 hour when I started going downhill. I started experiencing the most excruciating pain I have felt in my life, and I recall morphine being directly injected into my stomach - which did nothing. The head nurse quickly realised it was serious, so she called the emergency button.

It was the first time in my life that I honestly thought I might not make it, but it all happened so fast, and before I knew it, I was back under the knife.

As I had been opened up 6 times now in my life, I had a lot of scar tissue. The surgeon described it like a spider web. My remaining bowel had somehow very badly twisted and kinked. It was something that my surgeon hasn’t seen for 15 years, and the head nurse later said that, after being in the ward for over 20 years, this would make her ‘top 3’ most memorable moments. Not exactly a list anyone wants to make... I was later told that if there had been just 1 more hour go by, not only would I have needed my whole bowel removed, but it would have been life threatening.

I spent the next couple weeks in hospital constantly being sick, and not being able to eat or drink anything. I lost over 15kg, and I was in quite a dark place, struggling to remain positive. The only thing I really looked forward to each day was sitting under the shower; having the water rush over me… I could forget about being in hospital for those few minutes.

Eventually the day came when I was discharged, a day that I did not think would ever come.

It has now been about 3 months since being in hospital, and I am recovering slowly but surely, day by day. It has been an extremely testing time for me not only physically, but mentally. I will require 6/12 monthly colonoscopies for the rest of my life, and I will need to live with that level of anxiety knowing that there is a high chance that I will get bowel cancer again in my remaining bowel.

What I eventually realised, is that I am actually one of the lucky ones, as there are sadly too many people out there that eventually succumb to this terrible disease.

If I have learned anything over my two battles with cancer, it is the importance of early detection. What I learned from putting off seeing a doctor with my testicular cancer - saved my life with my bowel cancer.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and I am living proof of that. Not only is testicular cancer the ‘young man’s cancer’, but the statistics with young people being diagnosed with bowel cancer is alarmingly on the rise.

If my story encourages just one person to get checked, or gives people’s perspective on their problems, then I’m happy.

Me, My Beard and Why - David

As a triathlete competing in Ironman events consisting 2.8k swim 180k bike and 42k run, I was physically fit.

In June 2013 I competed in an event in Cairns and felt more than normally fatigued, but still managed to finish. During the next few months I was passing blood and living in denial. I entered a shorter race in Yarrawonga and completed it, but was in all sorts of trouble. So, I made an appointment with my GP. This being the start of my loss of self-esteem, I was referred for a sigmoidoscopy three days later. I returned to the GP a few days later for the results. He informed my wife and I that the tumor was cancer. We left in shock, unable to comprehend what was to unfold. It felt like a death sentence.

My GP had recommended a surgeon, and he was my next port of call two days later. Both our heads were spinning as we talked to him and he went through the process step by step. At this consultation he took us through all the pros and cons. He said I was at the top of a roller coaster and in for a ride into the unknown. Three weeks later I was admitted to hospital where I met the stoma nurse. It was then, when she marked my abdomen for the bag, the reality hit. That night before surgery my wife and I were both in a place of fear and closeness, not knowing if this was the end.

When I awoke from surgery with tubes, bags and all sorts of things attached I wasn’t sure what to think. That was the day my life changed forever.

My surgeon came to see me to tell me the good news, that the cancer hadn’t spread and there was no need for Chemo. That part didn’t mean a lot to me at the time. I was an Ironman, now with bags, tubes and everything else. How was I to go forward.

Recovery was slow, and I had to return to hospital again as my bowel wasn’t working and I had an infection. I don’t think I have ever been as sick as that ever. There were so many things that happened through those few months, and I lost my dignity in the process.

After leaving hospital I was having trouble with the psychological side of things. My wife contacted cancer support nurses and the buddy up service, which helped talking with people who had been through it all. I also went to a cancer talk group where everyone was going through cancer of some form.

I learned to live with my stoma and bag for the next three months. Not letting it stop me, I got to a stage where I was back training with the support of friends. I even started swimming with my bag at a public swimming pool, using a full triathlon suit to conceal the bag. I started back to work on a part time basis, until fit enough to go full time. My transition back to work was made easier with the support of my company and the people I worked with. Things weren’t too bad.

I learnt to manage and we’re now seeing things in a better light.

Then came next part of the journey. After three months I was back in hospital to be joined up again and say goodbye to my bag. I spent another ten days in hospital recovering from the surgery. This is when I found out that although the tumor had been removed, a part of my body had also gone. My body would never function the same again, after a week of constant visits to the toilet my frustration took over. I rang my surgeon and asked for my bag back, I had learnt to manage to a point I had some quality of life. He assured me it would improve over time and my body would learn to overcome the change to its structure.

I again returned to work full time only wanting to get my life back to where I left off. But I was given another role with greater expectations; this combined with constant need to visit the toilet took its toll. I ended up having a breakdown and had to take more time off. When I returned I was given another role where I felt like a nomad. I had no real spot to fill and was just a floater. I was still dealing with the way my body was now functioning. There were nights where I soiled the bed and other accident, all taking its toll.

I had never thought of retiring from work. I enjoyed being part of it through the good and bad times, but an opportunity came to look at retirement as an alternative.

Earlier this year I retired, I miss work but I don’t miss coping with my bowel functions while trying to hold down a job.

I hear the word ‘cured’ used a lot in describing my successful treatment to date, but I can’t see it that way. I have had a cancer removed but in doing so part of my functioning body has been removed. I will never be the same. I still live every day with a constant reminder and in the back of my mind is the constant thought of another cancer.

I’m still alive and try to make the most of every day. Some are better than others, and they are days to savor.

Me, My Beard and Why - Andrew M

My name is Andrew and I am a bowel cancer survivor.

I was age 39, married with three early teen boys and a new born baby boy. I had just started a new exciting role in Sydney.

The first few weeks, I was extremely tired, and my stomach felt off every time I arrived at work. My commute was an hour and a half drive in the early morning, so I put it down to the change in routine.

As the weeks went on, I kept getting to work and thinking I needed to go to the toilet, but nothing would happen.

My wife convinced me to go to my GP and see if he might be able to give me something to help my stomach and my fatigue.

After an examination of my stomach and hearing my symptoms, he said to me, something seems odd, we should check it out just to be sure, so he sent me to a specialist to undergo a colonoscopy. While on the waiting list for the colonoscopy, I decided the travel was too much and I applied for a new job closer to home. The day I accepted my offer was the day before my colonoscopy.
So, here I was, 40 years old, never been under anaesthetic and more worried about that, than that they would actually find something.

I woke from the anaesthetic and my doctor brought my wife in. Still unsuspecting of anything, he told me straight. There is a golf ball size cancer about 7cm into your bowel. We didn’t see anything else, but we need to get it checked. I went and had my tests and scans done, booked back into the specialist for the next day and rang my new job to tell them what had happened. Incredibly, they were so understanding and supportive and were happy to still take me on even though they knew what I had in front of me.

Three weeks later, I start radiation and chemotherapy for a solid 5 weeks. Radiation Monday to Friday along with four tablets morning and night. Two weeks in, I start my new job. Leaving work and going straight to radiation each day.

Six weeks later, I go in for my first ever surgery, an ultralow anterior resection. I wake after the operation with tubes everywhere, a big scar down my stomach and an ileostomy bag attached to my right abdomen. I started full chemotherapy for six months about a month after surgery. I returned to work at the same time. It wasn’t easy, adjusting to having a bag for my waste, dealing with chemotherapy and trying to readjust to my reasonably new job.

Two months after the chemotherapy finished, I had the second surgery to reconnect my bowel and remove the ileostomy bag. I'm now six months with no bag. My stomach is still readjusting to different foods, but I am alive, healthy and able to run around with my boys, which is the highlight of everyday.

Hope my story helps someone else get through their fight.

Join Andrew, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Tino

At 58 years of age I had suffered from Colitis for at least 25 years, but I had been relatively healthy without any medication for about the last 10 years.

However, one morning while going to the toilet I noticed a smell that reminded me of the time I was suffering from Colitis. I’m not one to go running to the doctor but for some reason on this occasion I made an appointment. The doctor referred me to a specialist which I saw that week and he suggested a colonoscopy just to be safe as I hadn’t had one for 25 years.

A week later I had my colonoscopy and I woke up in the recovery room with the specialist waiting by my side. That’s when my life changed forever. He told me I had colon cancer.

To cut a long story short I had chemo, radiotherapy and surgery and I now have a permanent colonoscopy bag. Two years recovery but I’m cancer free and alive.

My point is if you have any symptoms that appear at that end- get it checked. If I hadn’t, it would have been too late for me.

Join Tino, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Kevin

I only did the test kit on a stick when I was 56 in 2010.

I was pretty reluctant to do the test but came out a winner big time. I was diagnosed with very early bowel cancer. The colonoscopy told the full story followed by keyhole surgery and chemotherapy.

My daughter was doing her PhD based on the benefits of exercise and associated endorphins in surviving cancer.

I had been a competitive archer and medalled at National and State events since 2004 but ramped up my archery to help me get through the physical and mental aspects of my treatment. My archery was so focussed that I improved to the next level and represented Australia at a World Championship overseas a very short time after completing chemotherapy.

During my treatment period my father fought with a brain tumour. He lost his fight but won a lot of extra time.

My experience with cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me behind meeting my wife and starting my family as it enabled me to process things better and develop a different outlook on life.

I should have also added that I am still enjoying my archery and will be representing NSW at the upcoming Australian Archery National Championships in early November in Victoria.

Join Kevin, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Chris B

Six years ago, this Easter, I had a colonoscopy for the first time, even though I had no symptoms - my wife had to have one so why not me.

Three days after a colonoscopy 350mm of my bowel was removed.

I had a bag for six months and then a reversal. I have to watch what l eat and keep an eye out for changes in my bowel, but the alternative was not good.

My symptoms would not have shown up with a home test kit so {if you notice any changes}, I would say to go and have a check-up and talk to your Doctors.

Just do it!

Join Chris, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Tom A

I am living with stage 4 rectal cancer. It is in my lungs and is inoperable. I am terminal and undergoing fortnightly chemo to slow things down. 

I was diagnosed at 33 and am now 37.5, 40 is my goal.

I have had 13 tumours removed through multiple surgeries and some radiation. From my bowel, liver and both lungs. My approach to cancer has been very aggressive.

I’m regularly told that I am inspirational, this is an assertion I mostly reject. I’m a human being doing what he can to remain on the planet as long as possible, that’s what most people would do in my position. Cancer is a humbling thing.

I would like to raise awareness specifically about young-onset bowel cancer as that’s a story I can tell. If I can get one more person to pay attention and have their cancer detected early that is a good start.

I hope people will learn that symptoms for bowel cancer can be very simple and seemingly every day. For me I sought medical advice the minute I felt different, and even then, it seems my body was coping well with the illness, as I was stage 4 at first sign.

It concerns me that many people ignore symptoms for so long when they shouldn’t. My advice would be to get checked and if you don’t feel the doctor is taking you seriously, be insistent or seek a second opinion. Be your own best advocate in your health. You only get one body.

Join Tom, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Charles D

Three years ago, I returned to Australia after living and working in Quebec, Canada. I went to my local GP to arrange a check-up with all the usual blood tests.

I said I missed the bowel screening test at 55 from being overseas. She gave me the test and I did it over three days. My blood work came back normal as I expected as I was healthy. However, there was a microscopic amount of blood in one of my stool samples. I was sent to a specialist and told that it was best to have a colonoscopy.

I did and got the news no one wants to hear - that they found cancer in my bowel.

I was sent for a scan and tests to see if any lymph nodes had been affected.

I was sent to see a surgeon who informed me that the lymph nodes were clear and due to my own vigilance, the cancer was new.

After relatively non-invasive key hole surgery some of the bowel was removed, as it hadn't had time to penetrate the bowel wall there was no need for chemo or radiation.

I did have complications after the surgery as the bowel resection didn't take and I ended up in surgery at midnight with peritonitis and a temporary stoma bag.Three months later the bag was removed, and I am now back to normal.

There was no history of bowel cancer in my family.

Now I encourage all my relatives and friends to do the test because if it is caught early bowel cancer is easily cured.

The test is easy and could save your life. As I now say don't be a fool and test your stool.

If my story helps one person from getting bowel cancer, then it's all worth it.

Join Charles, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Paul

My name is Paul, I am 52 and I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2016.

In November 2015 my wife Tracy and I joined a couple of lifelong friends for a trip to the USA, while there I first noticed a slight change in my bowel motions. Being in another country I put it down to a change in food and environment. After arriving home, it was straight into Christmas so again I put it down to food and environment.

In mid-January 2016 I went to see my GP, after going through my symptoms he referred me to a bowel surgeon.

I had a colonoscopy and the result was a tumour in my ascending colon.

I spent my wedding anniversary in hospital recovering from surgery.

Six months of chemo (capecitabine) and then regular checks from then on.

I had another colonoscopy in February 2017, all clear. February 2018, I underwent another colonoscopy, all clear but I asked for a CT scan just to make sure, that's when the fun began.

My cancer had metastasised to my liver, lungs and spine. That news hit hard, the biggest thing was telling my wife, two adolescent sons and my parents.

Our family has a history of bowel cancer, so I had an idea what I was in for.

At 52, being told you only have a possible three years, was a hard pill to swallow, we are keeping upbeat about things and changing very little to our current way of life.

Even with a family history I missed the early signs, my boys hopefully will deal with themselves a bit more careful in the future.

One thing I have learnt throughout all of this is to listen to your body, it never lies, and your mind is stronger than any medication available.

I have been very open about my condition, trying in some small way to educate people about this awful disease.

I know a cure will be found down the track, too late for me but hopefully the next generation will do better.

Join Paul, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Darren

I'm 45 and six weeks ago I found out through a colonoscopy that I had bowel cancer that required immediate treatment.

I have had my operation to remove the segment of bowel with the golf ball sized cancer and now recovering. My oncologist recommended three months of chemo as there was one lymph node that came back positive, so I will be starting that next week.

I'm healthy and fit and had no idea about my condition. My wife and five children have been a great support and we are all so grateful of the medical services that found it and acted so quickly.

Join Darren, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Peter

At 2:40pm on 6th November 2009, 20mins before the race that apparently stops the nation, my life was turned upside down.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at the age of 27.

I will never forget the moment waking up from the anaesthesia to see nurses with tears in their eyes, and to hear the words, “I’m sorry, but we found something.”

I knew at that point I had a huge fight on my hands. I had the lower half of my bowel removed and I received six months of chemotherapy. I’ve come from a family with no cancer history at all!! No sign of any health issue what so ever.

This is a big thing for me to write, as I’m not one to let much out!

As I write this today, I’ve been cancer free for nine years, that’s huge for myself and my family. I have two beautiful boys that need their dad, but the fight will never be over.

The reason why I’m writing this is to raise awareness. When was the last time you got a check-up?

Whether you’re a mother, a father or a son or daughter cancer does not discriminate!

I bet you can find time to fit in a haircut/lunch out with friends huh?

Well make time for check up!! It may just save your life. I would hate to see anyone else go through what myself and others have been through. Never give in!!!!!!

Join Peter, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Russell

Bowel cancer is something very close to home.

My father-in-law was diagnosed at 39, my wife (Talya) at 21 and she has two sisters who at 11 and 12 were tested and found positive for a genetic trait that puts them at high risk of developing bowel cancer at some point in their life. It was a rude awakening to the realities of this disease and I’d like to share my newfound knowledge from my second-hand experience with bowel cancer; although more prevalent in older people, you can never be too young for bowel cancer.

So why the beard?

The simple answer is I wanted to grow a beard. Quite honestly, I didn’t even realise there were platforms like this to help raise awareness for bowel cancer. So, when my wife suggested I attach myself to the campaign I thought what a great way to kill two birds with one stone - raise awareness for bowel cancer and raise awareness for a platform that raises awareness that I was, until then, unaware of.

My wife also said I could grow a beard if it was for a good cause and I think that Bowel Cancer Australia’s Decembeard® campaign is a great awareness initiative and conversation starter!

Support Russell’s Decembeard® fundraising efforts.

Join Russell, and the men of Australia, in helping make real change happen this December.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Tony

I can clearly remember in 1971, as a fourteen-year-old boy my maternal grandmother, Nana, being diagnosed with cancer.

She was a heavy smoker for many years, and the initial diagnosis was lung cancer. She underwent many operations, and what was then the best possible chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Sadly, she passed away and only afterwards did we become aware that the lung cancer was actually masking the real killer, bowel cancer.

One of my mother’s greatest fears was that she would not outlive her mother. Fast forward to 1998, our family was rocked again by the diagnosis of our mother with bowel cancer!

After many operations, which before each Mum insisted, she was NOT to have a bag, and several years of ongoing treatment with the best chemo drugs available again, where there were times when it appeared she was coming out the other side, only for things to go backwards again, Mum passed away in 2000 at 65 years of age. Outliving her mum by three short years.

One of the things Mum did insist on was that all of us have a colonoscopy and let her know the results, and when I reflect on this it was the first step in future proofing her family against the disease. This became a regular part of my life, starting out every 5-8 years and eventually, as I got older, being every three years.

Following the death of our father in 2007, from prostrate and bone cancer, I was pretty sure that my chances of developing cancer were quite high.

In 2017, I was due for a follow-up gastroscopy to review how my oesophagus was fairing after being diagnosed with Barret’s Disorder due to ongoing reflux. I had had both a gastroscopy and colonoscopy the previous year, with the colonoscopy being all clear. In April 2018, I had had a routine blood test and all markers were normal.

Just prior to the gastroscopy, I developed a small cyst on my anus. I visited my GP, who prescribed treatment for it and asked to see me again in two weeks.

I felt that it was clearing up and as the two-week follow up approached, I actually considered not going back as work was busy, fortunately though I did. He suggested that since I was going in for the gastroscopy that I should see the specialist and possibly have a colonoscopy as well.

The specialist agreed and following the procedure I can remember him coming out to me, while I was still coming out of the anaesthesia, squatting beside me and saying “we found a growth, its cancer. You will have to have surgery ASAP”.

So, with those words, my journey began…. surgery early October, where they removed approx. 33% of my colon (including my appendix so that was a positive, I won’t get appendicitis now), insertion of the port to facilitate the chemotherapy and then chemo beginning in November 2018. I was scheduled for 12 sessions of chemo, which were due to finish in April 2018.

At this stage of my journey, I have come out the other side, tumour markers in the normal range and continuing to fall, liver function back to normal and on the way to getting back to the level of physical fitness that I was at prior to starting out.

I have been fortunate to have had the support of my family and friends, work colleagues and the fantastic oncology team at Moruya Hospital along the way. And as my GP agrees, the unscheduled colonoscopy probably saved my life as in his words “if we hadn’t done it till it was due in two years, it would have been all over red-rover”.

I had not previously heard of Decembeard® and had over the past years taken part in ‘Movember’ regularly. When I heard about Decembeard®, it seemed only fitting that following my journey and battle with bowel cancer that I get involved to raise awareness and some funds (possibly) and highlight the importance and the difference early detection and treatment can make to survival rates.

Being involved has two main factors attached to it, firstly (and foremost) it is to honour those who have gone before, such as Nana and Mum, and how the learnings from research since then has improved the treatments, secondly it is about raising awareness in the community about looking for early symptoms and acting on them.

Sharing my experiences, and those of family and close friends, to raise awareness of the need to be kind to ourselves, adopt a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and not to put off visiting your GP if you notice something not right or symptoms associated with Bowel Cancer.

The one piece of advice to share with others about bowel cancer is : It is not a death sentence!

If I can raise the awareness and one person seeks early advice, prompt diagnosis and successfully undergoes treatment, then I will have made a massive difference to not only their life, but to the lives of all their family and friends too.

Sign up to grow a beard and raise funds to help us beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - John

I am taking part in Decembeard as it is something close to my heart.

My father passed away from bowel cancer in 1978, at the age of 75.

My daughter Julie was diagnosed in 2012, at the age of 40.

I have also had nieces and nephews who have been diagnosed.

I receive the 'poo tests' in the mail and I have regular colonoscopies.

Given our family history I like to be on top of things and get checked on a regular basis.

Thank God for modern medicine and the health professionals who are striving to find a cure for this dreaded disease.

It may have been too late for my own father but early detection can save the lives of my own children and grandchildren.

Me, My Beard and Why - Tom

A living example of how research can benefit bowel cancer patients

Unfortunately, I ignored early warning signs and put off a colonoscopy that could have changed my life. By the time I got around to having it done, I was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

With the cancer having spread to my liver and then later to both of my lungs, I was given just two years to live.

I signed up to participate in a clinical trial, which I have been participating in for the past two years.

Inspired by the work of Bowel Cancer Australia and determined to raise awareness about bowel cancer, I have been an active advocate and fundraiser.

The only reason I’m alive today is because of the treatment I received from wonderful doctors, nurses and health care professionals supporting me, and the medical advances achieved thanks to research by organisations such as Bowel Cancer Australia.

Efforts by the 100% community-funded charity have led to new funding and greater patient access to life-changing cancer treatments in Australia with over $9.8 million committed to bowel cancer research in collaboration with funding partners.

Looking at the advances that are happening in the cancer space every day, I truly believe that we will see the end of many cancers within a generation.

Every dollar donated will help to achieve this goal!

Sign up and share your “Me, My Beard and Why” story at Decembeard.org.au today.

Me, Decembeard and Why - Felicity

The girl with colitis

I recently completed my Master of Professional Accounting and am currently working in Finance. (I think a lot of people are under the impression that Finance is really boring, so I'd like to show that that's not the case!)

I first heard about Decembeard® from my friend Antonio, who was participating last year with a group of his mates.

I've always had a thing for facial hair, so I freely admit that that was the initial attraction!

However, once I read Antonio's story about his friend Deano who had passed away at the age of 26, and how that had inspired him and his mates to get involved in this campaign, I knew I wanted to get involved as well.

I never had the opportunity to meet Deano, but he's still been a huge inspiration to me.

Since becoming involved in Decembeard®, I've heard many stories from friends and family who have been affected by bowel cancer.

I learned that Elizabeth, who I'd met back when I lived in Canberra, had passed away in July from bowel cancer.

I heard that my Uncle Mick is currently battling bowel cancer.

I've had numerous people tell me of their own connections to this disease.

I've even had a good friend of mine, who works as a nurse, tell me that as a result of my Decembeard® efforts she has been inspired to research further into bowel diseases, and that this knowledge has helped her provide better care to her patients.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2014, shortly after my younger sister was (hence my personal Decembeard® team name, "The Girl with Colitis").

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that basically means my large intestine doesn't function the way that it should.

Aside from creating day-to-day challenges, this disease also puts me at high risk of bowel cancer.

When my symptoms (constant, bloody diarrhoea and cramping) first appeared, I was scared.

However, I was lucky that my sister had told me about her own symptoms, and so I knew that I needed to see a doctor right away.

I know that not everybody is so lucky to have a close friend or family member who can guide and support them when they begin to experience symptoms, and encourage them to undergo further investigation.

I think that's really concerning, because bowel cancer can be successfully treated in 90 per cent of cases if detected early.

So my goal is to spread awareness about bowel cancer.

I hope that people who see me or hear my story will be encouraged to talk to their doctor early about their bowel activity.

As a female, I feel I'm in a really fortunate position to be able to spread awareness of bowel cancer in a fun way, through wearing brightly-coloured knitted beards.

I certainly drew a lot of attention last year, and I'm sure this year will be even bigger!

This Decembeard®, join me in raising awareness and raising funds for Bowel Cancer Australia and help us to beat bowel cancer by signing up today. 

About the beards: I knit each one by hand, using a pattern I found online which I've heavily modified to suit the look I'm going for. I've come up with a couple of new & improved designs this year, which I look forward to modelling!

Me, My Beard and Why - Andrew

Decembeard® - the perfect platform to help others

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 22, so I know from my own personal experience that bowel cancer affects men of all ages.

You can be young, eat well, exercise regularly and still be told, “You have bowel cancer.”

Decembeard® is a great way to raise awareness about the early detection of bowel cancer, when 90% of cases can be successfully treated..

Growing a beard offers a visual reminder to others about this silent cancer killer.

So this year I’m supporting Decembeard.

Not just as a way of raising awareness, but also as a way to raise funds to support vital bowel cancer research.

Without funding research there will be no progress in finding ways to reduce adverse reactions to current medical interventions.

I’d also like to see research funded for the development of medical interventions that impact less on quality of life and body function for those diagnosed with bowel cancer, like me.

Following surgery to remove the cancer from my bowel, I took 3 years off of work in order to adapt to the changes that had happened within my body.

I felt it was important to give my body time to heal and to take time to adapt mentally to the adverse reactions from surgery.

Since being diagnosed with bowel cancer, I have prioritised my life to ensure that I can live up to my own moral values, which includes helping other people. Decembeard® provides me with a great way to do that.

Join me and Bowel Cancer Australia this Decembeard® and help us beat bowel cancer.

Sign up at www.decembeard.org.au.

Me, My Beard and Why - Wayne

Wearing his beard with fatherly pride this Decembeard®

I lost my 26 year old son Dean to bowel cancer in 2013.

There was no history of bowel cancer on either side of our family.

Losing a child is something you don’t recover from.

The whole experience was horrible – to see a healthy young man deteriorate like that, and there is nothing you can do.

It’s something no parent, no one, should go through.

As his Mum said, ‘We have to wake up each morning to the horror of him not being with us anymore.’

I have not participated in Decembeard® before, except to donate to one of my son’s friend’s funds, but this year I wanted to get involved directly.

I’m hoping my participation will help to spread the message that you’re never too young to be told you have bowel cancer, and to encourage Australians to seek help when something seems wrong.

As soon as something doesn’t feel right make an appointment to talk to your GP, because if detected early 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated.

One of Dean’s closest friends, Anthony organised a team of Dean’s mates called “Deano’s Bearded Stallions,” in honour of Dean and to raise awareness about bowel cancer, particularly in young people.

I’m planning to use my beard to encourage conversations about bowel cancer in men and hopefully get more people to support Bowel Cancer Australia as a result.

More than 8,000 men will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this year, and around 560 (7%) of them are under the age of 50, like my son Dean.

Giving back, raising funds for Bowel Cancer Australia and supporting others who might be going through what my son and our family did, helps me to stay positive when I start to get down about things.

I hope you’ll join me this Decembeard® and help Bowel Cancer Australia to help save lives.

To sign up to Decembeard® visit http://bowelcancerfundraising.org/event/decembeard2017

Me, Decembeard and Why - Ashleigh

I am a nurse and a midwife, a daughter and a sister.

As a health professional and as a sister, I’ve learned that everybody’s journey is different and that everyone needs love and support.

My big brother Dean lost his life to bowel cancer at the young age of 26.

It was fast, aggressive and the worst thing I’ve ever had to witness.

He was taken away from us just 8 months after diagnosis.

I have treated many wonderful people in my profession, but my greatest honour was nursing my brother during his final weeks of life as he received palliative care at home.

He was and forever will be my favourite patient.

As Dean's cancer progressed, his physical-self deteriorated.

It was so heartbreaking, watching someone I loved so much look so ill and not himself.

People often think that bowel cancer is an “old person’s disease,” but bowel cancer affects people of all ages.

The thing I am so truly thankful for was that Dean’s mental-self didn’t deteriorate – he stayed cheeky until the moment he passed.

This was a big blessing amidst the pain.

As brother and sister you are supposed to continue growing up as adults together – to watch each other become parents and become ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’ to each other’s children.

We were supposed to continue to be part of each other’s lives.

It breaks my heart that Deano will not be here to share those moments with me.

My heart also breaks for my Mum and Dad who have lost their beautiful baby boy.

But we are very lucky to have the support of Dean’s friends, who were so great to grow up with, and who have been such a wonderful support through everything.

After Dean passed away, they joined together and created ‘Deano’s Bearded Stallions’ as a way to honour Dean’s legacy and raise awareness about bowel cancer.

Since that time, I have supported their team.

In place of something so tragic, they have created a meaningful way to celebrate and honour Dean’s life and his untimely passing.

Our family feels so blessed that Dean’s mates have continued this tradition, showing their love and support while raising awareness and funds to help beat this disease.

I really enjoy watching the boys as they post their beard progress updates and seeing people supporting and donating to their efforts, in recognition or bowel cancer in all ages.

Reading the comments, memories, and thoughts people share about Dean, along with the positive comments they write about the boys’ participation and their progress in Decembeard, fills the spaces of my heart that became empty after Dean's untimely passing.

This Decembeard® I’ll be supporting my brother’s ‘Stallions’ again, as they continue to honour their mate, my brother while raising awareness to save lives.

Sometimes I feel like people prolong visits to health professionals due to their feelings of embarrassment and to avoid an awkward conversation.

But that awkward conversation might be the thing that saves your life.

If you know of anyone going through a hard time medically, it’s very helpful and refreshing if people talk to you about it, ask how things are going, maybe cook a meal and deliver it to help lighten the load.

Support, talking it out and love are mainly what people need.

I know that these are what helped us get through.

For more information about Decembeard or to sign up www.decembeard.org.au

Me, My Beard and Why - Daniel

I'm Daniel, I’m 33 years old and I’m growing a beard this December.

I decided to participate in Decembeard this year because I have seen firsthand the difference early and late detection can make.

My sister, Leanne was diagnosed with Stage IV Bowel Cancer at the age of 30.

For nearly a year she was experiencing a range of symptoms, but not one seemed to know what was wrong.

Finally, in July 2011 she had an ultrasound which revealed numerous masses that would later be diagnosed as bowel cancer.

Leanne fought hard for 18 months, but due to the cancer being found at such a late stage there were no surgical options available.

Chemo & radiation managed to shrink some of the tumours, but they kept coming back.

Leanne passed away in December 2012.

Due to Leanne's diagnosis, my wife Jess was more aware of the symptoms.

After experiencing a large bleed, she spoke with a doctor who dismissed it as Traveller’s Diarrhoea.

The bleeding was recurrent for the following twelve months and so Jess decided to bring it up with her regular doctor who immediately arranged for Jess to have a colonoscopy.

A small tumour was found and she was diagnosed with Stage 1 bowel cancer.

She was 29 years old.

Jess underwent surgery, and has since been declared ‘cancer free’.

Bowel Cancer is not just an old person’s disease.

It can affect anyone of any age.

That is why I am supporting Bowel Cancer Australia this Decembeard, to raise awareness and remind people that you are never too young to be told you have bowel cancer and that you need to be an advocate for your own health.

I was so appreciative of Bowel Cancer Australia for the support they offered to my wife and me during her initial diagnosis.

She now participates in the Peer-to-Peer support program to try and help others in a similar situation.

I hope that by sharing my story, I will help stop another family from losing a loved one to this disease.

90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early.

For more information about Decembeard or to sign up visit decembeard.org.au

So if you think something isn’t right, talk to your doctor.

Me, My Beard and Why - Beards for Daniel

Daniel was a much-loved son, brother-in-law, husband, father and friend.

At the age of 29, he was diagnosed with Stage IV bowel cancer and endured years of chemo, surgery and medical procedures.

Daniel valued the work that Bowel Cancer Australia did in offering support for patients, promoting community awareness and supporting research for bowel cancer treatment, so he decided to participate in Decembeard and raise funds to beat bowel cancer.

Over 2 successive years, he raised over $24,000.

Three years after his diagnosis, chemotherapy and surgery that removed 70 per cent of his liver, Daniel’s cancer returned.

He sadly passed away in October 2016 at the age of 33, leaving behind a wife and a 3-month-old baby girl.

Daniel hoped that one day a cure would be found.

To continue Daniel’s work in raising awareness and funds to help beat bowel cancer, Daniel’s family and friends have created ‘Beards for Daniel’ and hope to match his fundraising efforts by growing beards and raising $24,000.

It's a big goal, but Daniel’s brother-in-law Adam and the rest of the team are hoping that with the support of others, they can do it.

For more information about Decembeard® or to sign up click here

Me, My Beard and Why - Anthony

I first heard about Decembeard® during December 2013, around 6 months after an event that was one of the hardest I’ve experienced in my life.

I work as an anatomical scientist, which means I spend my days facilitating cancer diagnosis for a living.

I see all kinds of things in my lab.

We deal with hundreds of thousands of cases every year – not all cancer diagnoses, but it does make up a fair chunk of our work.

Deano was one of my best mates.

In November 2012 he felt unwell and was complaining of a sore back, so he went to see his GP.

Deano was young and fit.

He played rep hockey, was recently married, dreamed of becoming a firefighter and was as healthy as any of us.

When they sent him for an MRI scan to see what was wrong with his back, it didn’t seem alarming.

What they found however was.

In his large bowel there was a tumour the size of his fist.

He was booked immediately for surgery, which was followed by chemotherapy.

When I was told about Dean’s diagnosis, I feared the situation was serious and I was overcome by a cold sick feeling.

But Dean, his new wife Abby, and his entire family remained optimistic.

A 26 year old doesn’t even get bowel cancer, right?


Dean and I had been so close – we were like brothers in many ways.

We had a tight group of mates who were there for each other.

As teens we were with each other all the time, but work and family and other things started to crowd our time, and eventually we all saw less and less of each other.

The guilt of not having made more time when we had it overwhelmed me.

The list of things I ‘should’ have done began to grow in my head.

As I watched Dean become weaker during his chemotherapy, I promised myself that I would be a better friend once this was all over with.

When he 'pulled through' I would visit him and his wife Abby more often.


But he didn’t get better.

Dean’s 3 month PET scan revealed that his cancer had spread beyond his bowel.

When I heard, I went straight to his place to see him and to try and encourage him.

But when I arrived, I didn’t know what to say.

Even though I spent my days in a lab where talking about cancer was business-as-usual, I didn’t know what to say.

“You’ll beat this Buddy!”

“If there’s anyone who can, it’s you!”

I didn’t believe what I was saying, but I hoped he would.

For the next month, I drove to the hospital every other night and talked with Dean about a big trip I was planning to Europe.

We reminisced about the good old days, talking about serious fun we’d had on the Sunshine Coast, surfing, going to parties, cruising in his old red Falcon.

On the night before I left for my long planned adventure, I hugged Dean and told him I’d see him when I returned.

As I walked to my car I cried.


The chemo stopped working and there was nothing more the doctors could do.

Dean’s wife called me in Europe to let me know.

I ached.

I was so far away.

He felt so close.

In response, I decided to take risks I wouldn't normally take.

I ran with the famous bulls of Pamplona in defiance of death and in defiance of what was happening to Dean.

He was the first person I texted when I completed the run.

From that point, I began texting Dean every day, sharing my antics with him as a way to stay close.

But he soon became so weak he could no longer read my words and his wife had to read them to him.

Dean and I spoke over the phone one last time before he died.

The pain medication caused him to slur his words so much I could hardly understand him over the phone, yet it was one of the most meaningful conversations of my life.

Dean passed away before I got back to Australia.


I received the news in a text.

I broke down and sobbed for what felt like hours.

My sister and I were able to attend Dean’s funeral via a Skype call and I broke down as I watched the boys carry his coffin out of the chapel, past the webcam.

When I returned, Dean’s closest family and friends gathered at Point Cartwright beach to scatter Dean’s ashes.

I still go there to remember Dean, our friendship and everything he meant to me.

And when people ask me why I got involved with Bowel Cancer Australia and Decembeard, I tell them I got involved because I remember Dean.

I’m passionate because I remember Dean and I want to make a difference because I remember Dean.

I hope you’ll join us this Decembeard® and help Bowel Cancer Australia to help save lives.

Me, My Beard and Why - Sam

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

With each donation, Decembeard supporter Sam offers a note of thanks and inspiration.

No wonder one of his supporters referred to him as the ‘Good Sam-aritan’.

Like the many other wonderful supporters of this year’s Decembeard Australia campaign, Sam is hoping to spread the word about the impact bowel cancer has on men of all ages - claiming the lives of over 2,300 husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, nephews and boyfriends in Australia every year.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Sam’s Decembeard page, here are a few of the quotes he’s shared.

“No Act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

"People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel."

“We make a LIVING by WHAT WE GET, But We make a LIFE by WHAT WE GIVE."

Me, Decembeard and Why - Jocelyn

My husband Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2014, after returning home from an overseas business trip.

He had no energy and was very pale.

The doctor scheduled for him to undergo surgery in early June 2014, so we decided to go on a holiday to Thredbo beforehand, to spend some quality time together.

Michael and I enjoyed travelling, and skiing and we often didn’t do one without the other.

We enjoyed spending time with friends and family and we really liked to just do things together.

Our daughter Elke wasn’t even two when he was diagnosed, so we didn’t really speak to her about what was happening.

Michael’s first surgery was performed in Canberra.

They were unable to resect the tumour and so he was started on chemotherapy.

After the chemotherapy, Michael became very sick and was sent to hospital in Sydney to undergo another operation, where they were able to remove the tumour.

Michael was in Sydney for about five weeks and so our daughter was looked after by her grandmother.

We told her that Daddy was sick and that Mummy had to look after him.

She was able to come and see us a couple of times and I flew home one weekend to see her.

The whole situation was very difficult.

We just took one day at a time.

Elke was looked after by family or in childcare when she was unable to be with us.

After the surgery we decided to have another holiday together and we went to Port Douglas for a week.

Once we returned, Michael started chemo again.

About a month later, they discovered that the cancer had returned.

I bought a couple of canvases and we painted our 3 hand and foot prints onto them the day before Michael passed away.

I didn’t know it would be the last day we would spend together.

These canvases now hang in Elke’s bedroom.

Michael passed away from bowel cancer just over two years ago.

He was 32 years old.

Our beautiful daughter is now four years old.

She has to grow up without a father and it is heartbreaking, however I hope that by fundraising and raising awareness we will be able to find a cure and reduce the impact of this terrible disease in her lifetime.

I'm trying now to live life to the full as Michael's life was cut short and I think he would want Elke and me to enjoy life and experience as much as possible.

I continue to play soccer, which was something Michael also used to do.

I spend time with my friends and family and I travel for leisure.

Elke has also been learning to snow ski during winter for the last two years.

We also spend time with friends, going to activities in and around Canberra, and visiting family.

2016 is my second year participating in Decembeard.

Last year I crocheted a beard and exceeded my fundraising goal.

This year my main aim is to raise awareness about bowel cancer in honour of Michael.

I want people to understand that bowel cancer is not just an older person’s disease and that 90 percent of cases can be successfully treated if detected early.

I also want people to know what the symptoms can be.

Michael’s workplace, Callaghans Accounting and Financial Services have been fantastic at raising funds and awareness for Bowel Cancer Australia since Michael passed.

This year is the first year they are participating in Decembeard and I am a part of their team.

We’d love your support in helping to raise awareness and funds to beat bowel cancer.

To sign up or donate, visit http://bowelcancerfundraising.org/event/decembeard2017 

Me, My Beard and Why - Dave

I want to start by saying that bowel cancer is a truly horrible disease which affects both men and women almost equally.

It is the second leading cancer killer behind lung cancer - but one of the most treatable IF DETECTED EARLY ENOUGH!

A few years ago my father had a close call with bowel cancer.

Luckily he was proactive about going to the doctor with his symptoms and it was caught early.

Initially treatment worked, but the cancer came back again twice - each time in his liver.

Thankfully, each time they caught it early enough and treatments have been successful.

However, my mate Dean was not so fortunate.

He lost his battle with bowel cancer on the 21st of July 2013.

Dean was only 26 years old.

In honour of him, our team "Deano's Bearded Stallions" was formed.

So my aim with this page is not only to raise much needed money, but also to raise much needed awareness in the hope that maybe another family, another friend - EVEN YOU, might be spared the havoc and heartbreak of this disease.

If something does not feel right - please do not dismiss it.

Do not put it off, because you are busy or embarrassed.

See your doctor immediately!

And please remember to donate if you can, big or small it all makes a difference.

Thank you for your support in helping to raise awareness and funds to beat bowel cancer.

Me, My Beard and Why - Damien

When I was first diagnosed with bowel cancer I did not have enough time to feel ‘sad’ or ‘worry’ too much.

I am naturally an optimistic person and an ‘action man’. “I can get through this!” I thought to myself.

Prior to my diagnosis at age 26, I had been experiencing dull pains in my pelvic area for 3 to 4 years, extending up through to my belly button and around to the right side of my body.

I had visited my GP and other specialists (including natural therapists) for what I now know to be mostly unrelated issues (e.g. stress, fatigue, general soreness) which were distracting me from the real issue, bowel cancer.

After a minor crash on the ski slopes at Mt Buller, the pain intensified. My GP then did blood tests, sent me for CT scans, an ultrasound, colonoscopy and gastroscopy. I even had to provide a stool sample!

At the time of the colonoscopy, a malignant tumour the size of an orange was discovered in my bowel. The time frame between the diagnosis and the surgery was all very sudden. My family showed me much love and support during this time which made the decision to remove the tumour easier – I did consider alternative treatments (e.g. mega doses of nutritional supplements).

I had surgery (“left hemicolectomy” – meaning they took out a chunk of my large intestine the size of a small crayfish!) and did not require a stoma (or a colostomy bag). Choosing to have my operation at “home” in regional Victoria (Shepparton) was comforting, and easier than travelling down to “the big smoke” (even though Melbourne is where I was born). We do have a history of bowel cancer in our family but I never thought it would affect me, especially at age 26! I was young and healthy! “This doesn’t happen to 26yr olds!” I thought.

My lifestyle before being diagnosed (age 18 – 26) was somewhat healthy. Probably before the age of 18 it was appalling (e.g. lots of junk food – I was overweight!), but I had certainly improved. Since being diagnosed with bowel cancer I avoid wheat and gluten, and swim regularly to stay fit and well, in mind and body.

Being diagnosed with bowel cancer has made me question things and then be very grateful for the times I’d proactively taken responsibility for my health (e.g. taking vitamins and eating well, choosing to use ‘safe’ personal care/household products, etc). For the first few years following my diagnosis I still worried the cancer would come back but I have now been clear for five years. “Yay!” My attitude remains the same; ‘I am a winner – I can achieve anything’.

Me, My Beard and Why - Chad

The end of the year is fast approaching and so is Bowel Cancer Australia’s beardtastic fundraiser, Decembeard®!

Now in its fifth year, the hair–raising fundraiser held December 1st-31st , Decembeard® encourages men to grow a beard in the final month of the year to raise awareness and much needed funds for bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer and its impact is felt not just by those diagnosed with the disease, but also by their loved ones.

I know this from personal experience. In 2012, my wife’s mother, Gail, was told she had the disease.

It's not something anyone should have to go through, or watch a loved one go through. Marissa’s Mum faces some tough days, but she has some really good days too.

I have seen first-hand the heartache bowel cancer can cause which is why promoting awareness, raising funds and supporting Bowel Cancer Australia are things I am very passionate about and proud to do.

By sharing our experience, I’m hoping to champion the role of families and carers who dedicate themselves to helping loved ones affected by bowel cancer. People like my wife, Marissa, and her grandmother Hazel (Gail’s mother).

We are so grateful for Hazel (Gail’s mother) who has taken on the role of Gail’s full time carer at the age of 89. Hazel does such a great job and we are very grateful for the role that she plays. It is a reminder that bowel cancer does not only affect individuals but it also affects families.

Decembeard® creates an opportunity for people across the country to help save lives and improve the health and wellbeing of people living with bowel cancer – people like Marissa’s mum and people like us.

Beards aren't just for hipsters, grandpas, men that ride motorbikes or people that are too lazy to shave. Anyone can help make real change happen.

All you need to do is grow a beard or stubble this December, and promote your facial hair to raise awareness and funds for Australia’s second biggest cancer killer - bowel cancer.

For those who can’t grow a beard, including women and children, there are lots of other ways to get involved, such as making or faking a beard, hosting a beardtastic Christmas party or simply making a donation.

Together, we can make real change happen.

Join me and sign up today at Decembeard Australia to help beat bowel cancer.

Chad Townsend
Cronulla Sharks
Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador

Me, My Beard and Why - Josh

Penrith Panthers winger Josh Mansour has committed to shave off his iconic beard to raise funds and awareness in the fight against bowel cancer.

The 27-year-old today launched Sauce Shaves for a Cause as part of Bowel Cancer Australia's annual Decembeard initiative.

Mansour declared he will part ways with his beard when he reaches his fundraising target of $10,000 during the month of December.

CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer and affects men and women of all ages. Every week 80 people lose their lives to the disease.

"As soon as I heard about Decembeard, I knew I wanted to put my beard on the line and raise some money," Mansour said.

"The statistics on bowel cancer are shocking. This is a disease we need to be talking about.

"I'm proud to take part in Decembeard and lend my beard to such an important cause."

Now in its fifth year, Decembeard raises funds for Bowel Cancer Australia's work in the areas of prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care.

Bowel Cancer Australia’s National Community Engagement Manager Claire Annear hopes Sauce Shaves for a Cause will help put bowel cancer firmly in the spotlight.

"While men love talking rugby league, they’re far less keen to talk bowel cancer," she said.

"Having Josh and his spectacular beard supporting Decembeard means we’re making more Aussies aware of this disease.

"We're very appreciative of Josh's support this Decembeard, helping us beat bowel cancer by challenging his chin curls, and inspiring others to do the same."

Me, My Beard and Why - Chris

In a bid to get people talking about the cancer that will affect one in 11 Australian men in their lifetime, Bowel Cancer Australia is encouraging Aussies everywhere to get chin-spired and sign-up for Decembeard® this December at www.decembeard.org.au.

Now in its fifth year, Decembeard® is a hair–raising fundraiser that encourages men to grow a beard, raise funds and help beat bowel cancer. Women and children can also get involved and show their support by making or faking a beard, hosting a fundraiser, or by donating directly.

Newcastle Knights prop/lock and Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador, Chris Heighington is proud to be growing a beard and supporting Decembeard Australia.

Recognised as tough, reliable and competitive on field, Chris has taken those traits to help tackle Australia's second biggest cancer killer - raising awareness of bowel cancer in the community.

"Both my father and grandfather have been affected by bowel cancer so I'm really proud to be able to support Decembeard Australia," said Chris.

Chris was overseas representing England in the 2011 Rugby League Four Nations when his father Tom first learnt he had bowel cancer. Not wanting to interrupt Chris's international commitments, the family initially kept the news from him.

Since then, Chris’ relationship with his father, who he affectionately calls "Big Dog", has been one of mutual support through the ups and downs of life, including the roller-coaster ride of bowel cancer treatment.

"Dad was diagnosed at 65 years old, and a little bit too late," Chris said.

“I urge people to be aware of the symptoms and see their doctors if anything doesn’t seem right. There's an at-home screening kit you can get to test yourself, or if there are other signs, go out and see a GP.”

"The key is to get on top of it before it's too late," said Chris.

An Ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia since 2012, this is the third year in a row that Chris is growing a beard for Decembeard - raising awareness of bowel cancer in men, much needed funds and helping the charity beat bowel cancer.

Chris has played more than 300 NRL games with former clubs West Tigers and Cronulla Sharks, and secured a premiership with each. He is an England International, Country NSW and NRL All Star and signed with the Newcastle Knights.

Join Chris and the growing number of Aussie men taking part in the Decembeard movement this December.

To sign-up, learn more or donate, visit Decembeard.org.au

You can also check it out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @DecembeardAU

Together, we can beat bowel cancer!

Me, Decembeard and Why - Michelle

16 August 2016 - The day I was told the news no one ever wants to hear.

Particularly shocking for me, with no bowel cancer history in the family as well as being a 31-year old mum, living an active, happy & healthy life with my loving husband & gorgeous toddler.

The operation a week later following the initial diagnosis was just as much of a shock. 53cm of my bowel removed which landed me in intensive care, weighing just 42kg with yet more devastating news to follow. We discovered we were pregnant with our 2nd child. The moment you are meant to jump for joy & yet we were speechless & with tears of sorrow. We thought to ourselves 'How could our lives be ravelling so out of control within a matter of weeks'. With a diagnosis of stage 3C bowel cancer & a few lymphs affected, I knew we had an extremely heart wrenching decision to make.

I started chemotherapy at the beginning of October, after a speedy 2-week round of IVF with a very successful egg retrieval ensured we could complete our family when the time's right.

Chemotherapy is no easy feat, however, I kept it in my mind that it was the 'good' poison my body needed to rid of any other possible dangers lurking in my body, even though with every session it was depleting my body of anything good!

I would hook up to chemo via my port-a-cath every fortnight for 3-day sessions. Just as I would start to feel somewhat 'normal' the next fortnights chemo session would come knocking on my door.

Counting down the weeks until end of treatment felt like years had gone by. When my final treatment came round I was well & truly over it!

16 March 2017, I was finally given some happy news, CLEAR results & now chemo free. This day marked the start of a new beginning for me.

I’m using my story to highlight the fact that BC can happen to ANYONE: Young, active, healthy diet, non smoker, no family history, ANYONE!!

I believe I was pretty down to earth prior to all of this occurring, however, nothing in my life today is taken for granted. I want to live my best for myself & my family & never look back to those dark days. It's now my turn to do my bit to support & give to others. My husband has kindly agreed to grow a nice itchy beard just in time for summer at my request for this great cause, so close to my heart.