Stepping out for mum: a fundraising journey

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Step by step. . . Steph Rossiter, Elli (eight months) and Sam, have been walking the streets of Riversdale taking part in the Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s Move your Butt fundraiser. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Halfway through Bowel Cancer Awareness Month The Ensign reporter Sandy Eggleston catches up with Steph Rossiter whose mother Helen Hanna died of the disease last year.

Steph Rossiter will have walked as far as Riverton by the end of June but will not actually arrive in the seaside town.

The Riversdale woman is taking part in Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s Move your Butt fundraiser.

It was not easy for her to walk from Riversdale to Riverton with a young family so she decided to walk around Riversdale every day and clock up the 115km distance between the two towns, Mrs Rossiter said.

Her mother Helen Hanna, of Gore, died of bowel cancer last year, aged 61.

Riverton was “Mum’s happy place”.

When her mother was 60, she had completed the bowel screening test but the result came back negative.

“I think that was kind of a false reassurance for her that it wasn’t something malicious.”

This caused her mother to ignore symptoms which included pain and bleeding from the rectum.

“She wrote off her symptoms as haemorrhoids.”

Mrs Rossiter believed it was important people took the test, but for some unknown reason it did not pick up that her mother had the disease.

When Mrs Hanna eventually went to the doctor and was diagnosed with cancer, the initial prognosis was positive.

“It started out with ‘caught it nice and early, it’s all contained, it’s curable’.”

The plan was for Mrs Hanna to complete radiation, chemotherapy and surgery and it was hoped she would recover.

But the disease, which was an aggressive form of cancer, spread and 10 months later Mrs Hanna died.

Walking Sam (7) to school every day pushing 8-month-old Elli was already part of Mrs Rossiter’s routine.

This added up to about 4km a day and at the weekends she went for longer walks to help reach the target.

“I’ve been walking with a couple of friends which is nice.”

Halfway through the month she was on target to achieve the 115km and had raised about $2600.

As well as fundraising, Mrs Rossister hoped to increase awareness of the disease.

“It’s just not something people talk about,” she said.

She was keeping people updated on her progress and posting information about bowel cancer on her social media page.

Exercising and eating less processed food were two ways people could reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer, she said.