Millbrook's brave Robyn takes part in triathlon
A WOMAN who was given two years to live after doctors found a tumour growing in her brain has competed in a triathlon – just 18 months after her lifesaving operation.
Robyn Teague has told of her remarkable recovery and how she feels "reborn" following the pioneering surgery she underwent at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth in April 2012.
The 25-year-old former army cadet instructor is believed to have been only the second person in the UK to undergo the revolutionary treatment, which successfully removed the walnut-sized tumour.
The high-tech kit the hospital used created a 3-D map of Robyn's brain and the operation to remove the rare neurocytoma – a non-cancerous tumour – lasted five hours.
Risks included right-side paralysis, that she could end up in a wheelchair permanently, that she could lose her speech and even death.
Robyn, of Millbrook, said that she is indebted to the hospital and to charity the Cavitron Fund – which contributed £68,000 towards the £130,000 cost of the ground-breaking equipment – for saving her life.
"It was like I was a new person; it was like being reborn," she said.
"There's no emotion attached to it now; it's like it happened to someone else, like I'm telling someone else's story," she added.
In the years leading up to her diagnosis, Robyn suffered from severe headaches but she said her GP felt she was just suffering from bad migraines.
"They continued to get worse until one morning I opened my eyes and it felt like I couldn't move," she said.
"An ambulance came and I was rushed to hospital."
She continued: "You normally have to wait weeks for the results of a scan but after 45 minutes the doctors rushed back in and said I needed to have an MRI scan. They then told us the bad news."
Robyn said she wasn't upset at first: "Strangely, we already had our day planned before we went to the hospital; we planned to go to the cinema and then to go and buy a new car.
"When they told me the news I said to my mum 'can we still go to the cinema and go buy the car?'
"My mum said, 'no Robyn, you've just been diagnosed with a brain tumour'."
It was breaking the news to her family and friends that she found most difficult.
"When I got home I had to tell my grandparents. I started to tell them but I couldn't. That was when it really hit me for the first time; when I had to tell other people."
Robyn was first diagnosed in February 2012 and underwent the surgery two months later.
"They said that there was this new equipment and they would like to trial it on me.
"I was in hospital for a week and when I eventually woke up my parents tell me that I spoke to them straightaway. But then my speech deteriorated really quickly – that was the first time I apparently cried – when I couldn't speak."
She continued: "I had really severe short-term memory loss. I had no concept of time – what happened last week, an hour ago or anything."
Months of physiotherapy and speech therapy followed and she is now on the road to making a full recovery.
The former Torpoint Community College student was among dozens of people who took part in a triathlon at Cawsand Bay at the weekend, in aid of the Cavitron Fund.
For pictures from the triathlon, see page 16.