Bowel Cancer Stories


Unlike many people, I had severe symptoms for some time before I got my diagnosis. For four weeks during the time of seeing my doctor and being diagnosed I had very bad stomach pains and was completely unable to eat. 

My condition continued to deteriorate all the time – the stomach pain came and went, becoming sharper and more intense as time passed, and I was generally very sick. By the end of this 4 week period, I was unable to walk.
During this time I saw four GPs, each of whom had a different opinion about what was wrong with me and even when I was eventually hospitalised the bowel cancer wasn’t picked up.

We went through five extremely painful years.

They were especially hard for my strong, brave and beautiful mother.

She was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer and it was very aggressive.


When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 23 June 2011, I didn’t even ask what stage the cancer was at – I just wanted to know what I had to do to fight it.

My initial symptoms were rectal bleeding, a change of bowel habit and stomach pain. Eighteen months prior, I had started bleeding and had a colonoscopy which showed nothing. The last colonoscopy five years prior to that had showed a polyp and an unknown growth, neither of which were diagnosed as a cancer. There is no family history of bowel cancer on either side of my family either.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was an elite athlete within touch football (refereeing) having represented Australia numerous times since 2010, the most recent international tournament in April 2016. I was ranked No: 1 in QLD, No: 2 in Australia and third in the world.

I first went to my GP in late 2014 for treatment for haemorrhoids and was referred to a specialist. I revisited my specialist in early 2016 as my younger brother had had appendicitis in late 2014 and during that procedure a tumour on his large intestine was discovered. He underwent surgery to have it removed but it was recommended his brothers get checked.

When Maureen received a screening kit in the mail just after her 55th birthday, she had no reservations about doing the test.

“It was just too simple not to do. The test was hygienic, quick to complete and extremely straight-forward,” she said.

Just as well, because ultimately this unusual birthday present saved her life.  When the test returned a positive result, Maureen was not overly concerned as she had read in the accompanying booklet that the presence of blood may be due to conditions other than cancer.

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