Rockhampton's Blair and Angela Grice and their young family.
Rockhampton's Blair and Angela Grice and their young family. Contributed

Angela Grice's heartbroken mum shares cancer warning

The mother of a Rockhampton woman whose tragic battle with cancer ended earlier this month has spoken out about her heartbreaking loss and the need for people to not take life for granted.

Joy Burke's life was shattered when her daughter, Angela Grice died at the age of 41 after a short battle with bowel cancer.

The late Angela Grice died peacefully yesterday morning.
The late Angela Grice. Contributed

She left behind husband Blair and children, Milla, Luca, Harper and Maddie.

Close to 1000 people attended Angela's funeral last week, packing out the St Joseph's Cathedral. Her final goodbye, a colourful array of balloons cast into the wind.

It was a fitting reflection of how she lived her life.

READ: How the Rockhampton community came together to celebrate Angela's life.

Here are Joy Burke's words:

I am Angela Grice's mother.

Angela lost her battle with bowel cancer recently and I would like to speak out about bowel cancer.

First let me, on behalf of the Burke family thank everyone involved with Angela's short battle with cancer - the doctors, nursers, ambos, hospital staff at Brisbane hospitals and the palliative care unit at the Rockhampton Hospital; everyone who tried so hard to help her. To everyone for their cards, flowers, text messages, emails, and personal visits we say 'thank you'. There are far too many to thank personally.

My association with bowels cancer dates back to 1976 when I lost an uncle at age 56 to bowel cancer. Uncle Norman had survived the war and was working in the railway when he took ill. I don't think they knew a lot about this cancer back then and complications set in.

His sister, my own mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in early 1984 aged 62. After the operation she was left with a colostomy bag. My mother lived a full life. She travelled, went to meetings, shopping, bingo and looked after grandchildren.

My mum and dad retired to Maryborough where they bought a unit in a retirement village.

Angela Grice.
Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Angela Grice. Allan Reinikka ROK170514araces9

Dad passed away in 1999 and mum lived there until she moved into the nursing home at the age of 91.

She passed away at age 92 and 5 months.

Later in 1984, her sister, my aunt, was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

A couple of months after the initial operation her bowel was succesfully rejoined.

She also lived to nearly 93.

VIDEO: Listen to Angela's husband, Blair, about how the couple fell in love.

Blair Grice after taking to the field during the memorial soccer game in memory of his wife Angela.
Blair Grice after taking to the field during the memorial soccer game in memory of his wife Angela. Chris Ison ROK220117cgrice3

In the year 2000, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

I had an operation immediately, a temporary colostomy, radium and chemo in Brisbane for six weeks, then came home for a further six months of weekly chemo.

It took nearly 12 months to fully recover.

I have no further problems and I have had, and will continue to have, regular check-ups.

When my daughter, Angela, was diagnosed late last year at the age of 41, I was devastated.

I am hurting.

Questions come to my mind and there are no answers.

Many of my cousins have polyps removed on a regular basis, as does my older brother.

His daughter, younger than Angela has had two polyps removed recently.

One of these was pre-cancerous.

I cannot express strongly enough the need for early detection and the need for immediate medical intervention and a positive attitude.

Do not hesitate - a spot of blood - the urge to go to the toilet for a number two after you have just been, with no result.

Symptoms experienced by myself and not spoken about.

I live in fear of what is ahead for Angela's three children, my grandchildren, with the age of diagnosis getting younger with each generation.

I will do the Relay for Life this year for bowel cancer.

I am also going to try to get some gene testing done. They can use me as a guinea pig.

We have to find a cause, a cure, a reason why this is happening.