MEMBERS of a local support group say they are determined to get more people talking about bowel cancer.

The West Dorset Semi Colons bowel cancer support group recently launched their website in a bid to raise awareness and get more people to join them.

It is run by a small number of dedicated volunteers who have either had bowel cancer or who care for those affected by it, and is headed by the colorectal nurses at Dorset County Hospital.

Weymouth resident Elaine Gardner was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009 and is in her fourth year of remission.

She, along with the rest of the support group, is hoping to unite all those affected by the disease and talk openly about bowel cancer in what she says is ‘one of the last cancer taboos’.

She said: “From an early age we are brought up not to talk about bowel habits, and are embarrassed about the subject – but just think for a moment – what are those few minutes of embarrassment compared to saving your life?

“Bowel cancer is life changing and not just on the patients, but on family and friends.”

Bowel cancer claims the lives of over 20,000 people a year and is the second largest cancer killer in the UK, but on the plus side almost as many survive due to early diagnosis and the expertise of surgeons, oncologists and specialist nursing staff.

The group’s aims are to support patients diagnosed with this disease right from day one.

Ms Gardner added: “There is nothing you can tell us that we haven’t experienced ourselves.

“The group has been functioning for two years but we have become really proactive in the last six months and are really pushing to raise awareness.”

The group meets quarterly and has a monthly coffee club. For more details visit

The Semi Colons are a national group providing support and information to patients and their families, carers and friends.

Elaine is urging members of other lesser known cancer support groups, such as ovarian or prostate cancer, to rally together to increase awareness.

Call 01305 816031.