Diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at age 32, Sherie Hagger encourages anyone who notices a change in their body to get checked immediately.
Sherie, a 34 year old administrator for the Office for Recreation and Sport in Business Administration, will host an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at her workplace on the Thursday 26 May for the first time.
Sherie explains her battle with the disease and her motivation for holding a morning tea.
“I spent 18 months in and out of hospital fighting for my life, but I am finally back at work (part-time) and doing light fitness, hanging out with my friends and being social again,” she said.
“Adjusting to life after cancer is tougher than I anticipated, but I am well on the road to recovery.”
Her involvement with Cancer Council began early during her cancer experience.
“I am so thankful for Cancer Council and the resources that they provide for cancer sufferers like myself. I received a lot of printed material to read when I was sent home from the hospital. I also went to a ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ session.”
Sherie was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in December 2013 - two weeks before her 32nd birthday.
Living with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestines, she initially thought her symptoms were related, but felt something was not right with her body.
“I have a regular gastroenterologist that I see for my Crohn’s but when the usual Crohn’s medication wasn’t helping to alleviate symptoms, I begged him for a colonoscopy as I could sense something was very wrong. I looked about six months pregnant.
“I was really fatigued and had this full-on ‘it-feels-like-something-is-killing-me-from-the-inside-out’ feeling,” she recalls.
Sherie underwent four major surgeries to remove the cancer, followed by months of rigorous therapy.
“My parents took care of me and without them I know I wouldn’t have survived. They were my strength and my motivation to keep fighting. My parents and sisters are all very strong-willed so I drew on their strength to help lift mine.”
While her battle with bowel cancer has been a difficult one, Sherie is happy to report that she is on the road to recovery and looking forward to the future.
She continues to monitor her health closely and knows she won’t get any sort of ‘all clear’ until the five-year mark.
“Adapting to life after cancer is very tough but having a great family meant I felt less alone and more eager to get out there and live again.”
With an estimated 1 in 12 Australians to be diagnosed with bowel cancer by the age of 85, Sherie hopes to bring awareness to the cause and encourage everyone, particularly young people, to get checked out by their GP.
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is one of Cancer Council’s leading annual fundraising events. Now in its 23rd year, the official event date is Thursday, 26th May, and morning tea fundraisers can be hosted throughout May and June.
Sherie strongly encourages everyone to host a morning tea.
“I think everyone you meet these days has been affected in one way or another, so holding a morning tea like this resonates with everyone,” she said.
“It is such a great way to get together and help raise some money and create awareness, and also honour those that have passed away.”
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Lincoln Size, said Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is a fun way for Australians to support Cancer Council.
“This May and June many people from across Australia will be getting together to share a cup of tea and support those affected by cancer. A morning tea is a great way to get family, friends, colleagues or even community together for a good cause,” Mr Size said.
“I encourage everyone to get involved, whether it be hosting a morning tea, attending an event, making a donation or purchasing a piece of merchandise.
“Cancer Council SA is hoping to raise over $1.3million ($13.8m nationally) through 4,000 South Australian hosts.
“We applaud the efforts of Sherie and her determination to help others just like herself who have been affected by cancer.
“With colorectal cancer being the second most common cancer in this country, we encourage people of all ages to seek medical advice at the immediate notice of any changes in their body.
“We also continue to encourage those involved in the National Bowel Screening Program to take the test as it could save your life!
“All funds raised through Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea will help fund Cancer Council’s life-saving cancer research, prevention programs, and support services for cancer patients and their families.”