Patient Stories

Lynn Faulds Wood

Lynn Faulds Wood

I presented the BBC's Watchdog programme with my husband John Stapleton & we had a delightful 2 year old son. Life could not have been better.  Then - out of the blue - I was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer.  At that time I had never even heard of this common cancer.

My symptom was very subtle, just a little rectal bleeding which came and went. I mentioned it to my then GP when going for a cervical smear test.  To his credit, he did give me a PR (Per Rectum digital examination with a gloved finger) but concluded it was "nothing to worry about at your age, probably piles".  After five months, still not worried, I decided to see another GP at the practice as I was still  spotting occasional bleeding. He also thought it nothing to worry about but agreed when I asked for a referral to a specialist. 

Because no one was anxious about my subtle symptom, I wasn't fast tracked and it was almost a year before I discovered the shocking truth - I had Stage C advanced bowel cancer.

Twenty six years ago, most people who developed bowel cancer died and, on paper, I had a 34% chance of survival. Not much had changed in the previous 40 years.

When I finally got the all clear, I made a TV programme for ITV's wonderful documentary series 'World In Action'.  It was an investigation into bowel cancer called “Bobby Moore & Me”.  Amazingly, it got 6.5 million viewers and 28,000 letters poured in.  That’s when I decided to give up most TV work to concentrate on saving lives from bowel cancer and other preventable or survivable cancers.

Since then I have spent lots of my time working unpaid on cancer.  With Portsmouth Hospitals - and especially bowel specialist Mike Thompson (former President of the Association of Coloproctology) - I've helped to fund and develop the best symptoms database in the world, from that the world's first evidence-based symptoms of this common cancer - launched by the Minister of Health in 1998 - and helped to develop this Bowel Cancer Symptoms Checker. 

Over the years I have helped to drive many improvements in care for cancer patients, co-founding and Chairing (2002-2010) European Cancer Patients Coalition, National Bowel Cancer Audit Project, Multi Disciplinary Team Forum (President), Patron Primary Care Gastrointestinal Society etc.  I've helped to develop and fund (£2/3 million) colonoscopy training centres, travelled the country opening many screening centres and hospital units etc and funded research.  

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