Robyn's Story9 May 2022
Last year, Robyn’s life was turned upside down – twice.
Alone in hospital because of COVID restrictions in March 2020, Robyn was awaiting her test results. When she saw the doctor heading her way, she braced herself to hear that her nagging abdominal pain was a prolapsed uterus. Instead, he told her she had inoperable bowel cancer. As she battled to digest the scary and inconceivable news, another bomb exploded in her world. The diagnosis was corrected to stage 4 ovarian cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of just 48%.
In deep shock, Robyn focused on getting through her treatment. But there was another shock in store after she had surgery three months later to remove her cancer.
“My surgeon said to me, ‘I just can’t believe your results at all, they are amazing’ – he said he couldn’t see any tumours,” says Robyn. “Today, I'm cancer free.”
Robyn during her treatment
Robyn was a participant in the iPRIME study, seeking better ways to treat ovarian cancer. iPRIME is just one of the gynaecological cancer clinical trials made possible by funding from our WomenCan community, for the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG).
Please give hope to women like Robyn by supporting more pioneering ANZGOG research with your tax-deductible donation today.
“The iPRIME clinical trial looked at giving patients chemotherapy before their surgery for ovarian cancer and adding two kinds of immunotherapy, and Robyn did exceptionally well – so much so that when she got to surgery, there was no disease left to find,” says Dr Cath Shannon, who is Robyn’s Oncologist and the Site Investigator of iPRIME at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane.
Dr Shannon adds that the national and international collaborations fostered by ANZGOG are vital for clinical trials to be viable in Australia, with our relatively small population. “The funding and organisational framework of ANZGOG gives more Australian women the opportunity of a clinical trial,” she says.
For Robyn, one heartwarming photo captures the difference the clinical trial has made. It’s a happy snap of her sweetly smiling as she cuddles her gorgeous new sleeping granddaughter, Blake, who she feared she wouldn’t live to meet.
Cuddling her new granddaughter this year.
Now Robyn knows future generations of her family may also need the better treatments ANZGOG researchers can find.
Her diagnosis led to her discovering she has the BRCA gene, an inherited susceptibility to cancers including ovarian cancer. Since then, three of her children have tested positive to BRCA.
“It is so important to keep all the clinical trials going to beat cancer if that's possible,” Robyn says.
“Being on the trial gave me a lot of hope. When you get diagnosed with cancer you’re frightened, but my outcome – I couldn't have asked for more. I feel totally blessed. And I appreciate so much the effort of the people who do the research and the sponsors who donate to make these trials possible.”
Each year, 6,600 women in Australia are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer.
By coming together as a community, we can give more women access to the ground-breaking clinical trials they urgently need for a chance of survival. Please give what you can today and help women like Robyn to live better and live longer.