Bowel Cancer Stories

A cyst on her appendix, bowel cancer, breast cancer and a mastectomy hasn’t stopped Robyn from appreciating all the little things in life. “I love watching the sunrise and am grateful for every day I have. Hopefully my story will help someone out there to not feel alone while they are going through what I went through.”

I have two sons Byron (25) and Aaron (19) and a loving and caring husband Graeme (my rock). I have always been a very active person. I started playing netball when I was five and only finished when I was 40. I also enjoyed running, aerobics, touch footy and coached netball and touch footy.

I’d had rectal bleeding and unusual bowel habits for six to eight weeks before going to see my GP in 2008. I was 60 at the time. My GP gave me an internal examination but found nothing. Nonetheless, he was insistent that I see a specialist and made the call while I sat in his surgery, getting me an appointment for the very next day. 

I had a colonoscopy within the week and was diagnosed with stage III bowel cancer.  I had a CT scan the next day, then an ultrasound for tumour staging.

Ever since a parting gift of a Giardia parasite from a family holiday in Thailand, I’d grown used to the occasional sight of blood and mucous in my stools, finding it more annoying than alarming. My naturopath thought I’d probably picked up another parasite, which made sense as a stool test around 12 months prior had returned normal. What else could it be, after all I was only 42.
Just to be on the safe side, my GP referred me to a gastroenterologist for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. I left the recovery room, the gastroenterologist’s words still fresh in my ears, ‘You’re one lucky woman. I removed a polyp from your bowel (rectum) but it all looks fine.’ Five days later came the unexpected phone call – the histopathology showed the polyp was far from fine, with cells outside the polyp’s margins indicating that the cancer had spread. How far he couldn’t say.

My twin sister, Lauren, was diagnosed at the age of 28 with Stage 4 Bowel Cancer. I don’t think I will ever forget that day, it was second most heart-breaking day of my life, the most heart-breaking day was when she died at the age of 29.


In May 2013 I was admitted to hospital for appendicitis. 

Prior to the operation, my surgeon was concerned that my symptoms didn't match up 100% with appendicitis, so he scheduled me for a CT scan instead.

Three years earlier I had passed a large volume of blood in the toilet bowl after going to the toilet. I went to a GP who said not to worry about it unless it happened again. As it didn't happen again I didn't go back to him.

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