"It's not like, 'my name is Malcolm and I have cancer'."

That's what a Tauranga man who survived bowel cancer has to say about Cancer Society support groups as he urges people to reach out for support while battling the disease.

Malcolm Buchanan was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2015.

The 69-year-old Judea resident moved to Tauranga from Scotland about a decade ago with his wife, Carolyn.

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The couple are grandparents to four "Skiwis" - Scottish Kiwis - after their two sons married women from New Zealand.

The keen cyclist first thought something was amiss after a bike race in Taupō during November 2015.

"I was going along happily and thought I'd just had a bad day on the bike," he said.

But he had a bleed soon after and a visit to the doctor saw him sent on for a colonoscopy. The diagnosis soon followed.

In February 2016, he received radiotherapy treatment before having an operation to remove the tumour from his bowel and have an ostomy bag placed.

He also received chemotherapy.

Tests in September 2017 showed cancer had spread to his liver and lung. This was removed by operation and he has been in remission since the beginning of 2018.

Malcolm Buchanan was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2015. Photo / Andrew Warner
Malcolm Buchanan was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2015. Photo / Andrew Warner

He received his treatment through the public health care system and said he could not fault it.

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"I'm very fortunate to have never been in any pain.

"What we have here in Tauranga is amazing, including the hospital, the Kathleen Kilgour Centre and the district nurses."

He aimed to keep his life as normal as possible - or adopt the "new normal" - while in treatment and remission.

Cycling had to be placed "on the back burner" while he fought cancer, but he sought to keep in touch with cycling friends by meeting up when possible.

He said he was "a positive kind of guy" and pointed to the impact that cancer had on the wider family, too.

"There's another four or five people who it impacts just as much.

"I really couldn't have done it without her help. You need that family support."

He said Cancer Society support groups had an "amazing impact" on his recovery.

"There's a tremendous amount of help out there."

He attended the weekly walking group and coffee meet-ups which saw a group of cancer sufferers come together in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

"It's a great source of encouragement to get out of bed."

Speaking about the disease and seeing other people in the same boat was a source of strength.

"There are lots of us out there. It can send you on a downward spiral if you don't talk about it," he said.

"It does give you a bit of hope."


Daffodil Day
• Daffodil Day is taking place today
• Donations go towards cancer research, support services, education and awareness campaigns
• People can buy daffodils, donate to street collectors, purchase merchandise or make a donation by phone or online

Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer are many and varied, including:
• Blood in the stools and/or bleeding from the rectum
• A change in bowel habit lasting longer than six weeks (eg loose stools, diarrhoea or constipation)
• Stomach pain (often severe)
• Lumps or a mass in the abdomen
• Weight loss
• Weakness and tiredness (symptoms of anaemia)
Source: Southern Cross Medical Library

Bowel cancer in the Bay of Plenty - the numbers
The number of new diagnoses in the Bay of Plenty area:
2016 - 204
2017 - 182
2018 - 190
Source: Midland Cancer Network