Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
A young woman who said she was “ignored” despite suffering extreme symptoms of bowel cancer for months has been told her disease is incurable.
Ruby Rogers experienced a “constant back and forth” with healthcare professionals for seven months until she was left “screaming in pain” resulting in a CT scan that discovered the cancer.
The 28-year-old from Hull was initially told her symptoms were caused by colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Her main symptoms were:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite/feeling full very quickly leading to not eating hardly at all.
She told Hull Live: “It has been a constant back and forth blaming myself and blaming the GP for not listening to me, me begging them to listen as I’d dropped almost two stone in weight at that point (now even more) yet my NHS note says, ‘Weight is steady’.
“Make that make sense. Being told ‘it’s probably IBS or colitis’.
“How is it colitis when I don’t have the symptoms?
“Constant calls of, ‘This pain relief isn’t working’ and being put on more IBS medications like Buscopan and numerous other muscle relaxers which did nothing at all. Nothing.
“Convincing myself, ‘No, it must be colitis – they know what they are doing, they’re professionals’ but knowing deep down it wasn’t.
“Thinking back in October it was bowel cancer, but thinking, ‘Surely the numerous bloods, stools, urine samples, ultrasounds would have shown something.’”
In desperate need for answers Ruby paid for a private consultation.
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She said: “I was only taken seriously when I paid for a private consultation a few months ago and the consultant immediately told me, ‘No this isn’t x y z. We need an urgent CT scan and colonoscopy.’
“But the cost of going private made it impossible.”
Eventually her symptoms became so severe she needed to go to A&E.
She recalled: “I was only taken seriously when I was taken from work, unable to walk and talk and screaming in pain yet again.
“I was finally listened to at A&E and had a CT scan that day. I was finally told, ‘You have bowel cancer’.”
Despite being told her disease is incurable, Ruby is undergoing chemotherapy in a bid to extend her life.
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She said: “I’m not going to give up yet, myself and my family are looking at alternative medicines as there’s so much proof out there of people being told they are incurable and trying alternative natural remedies and then the cancer disappearing.”
Her sister Lisa has also set up a fundraising page to raise cash for private treatment.
Doctors are still unsure as to why Ruby developed bowel cancer.
“I don’t eat red meat, I don’t smoke, and I rarely drink – yet there I was at 27 being told I have bowel cancer which has spread to other parts of my body,” she said.
“Every time I tell the doctors I don’t do any of the above three things, they literally sigh in shock – they don’t know why I have this. They say it could be genetic.”
Ruby urged others to keep pressing for a diagnosis if they think something is wrong.
She added: “Please don’t let doctors push this off as IBS or anything else if you have symptoms.
“Early diagnosis is so important. It’s hard to get GPs to listen, trust me it really, really is.”
According to the NHS, symptoms of bowel cancer can include:
- Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
- Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
- Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
- Bleeding from your bottom
- Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
- Tummy pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling very tired for no reason.
Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) has said Ruby’s experience is upsetting, and while diagnosis of cancer has improved dramatically over the years, it accepts it is a particular challenge in younger people. A spokesman said: “We are really sorry to hear about Ruby’s bowel cancer diagnosis.
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with Ruby and her GP practice to understand more about her experience if she is happy for us to. GPs play a vital role in diagnosing cancer at an early stage, when the opportunities to treat the patient are greater and their outcome is likely to be better.
“However whilst bowel cancer survival has more than doubled in the last 40 years due to a national focus on early diagnosis and advances in and the adoption of lifesaving cancer research, there is always more to do. It is widely acknowledged that diagnosis of cancer in young adults is more challenging, the statistics show that cancer in young people accounts for less than one per cent of all new cancer cases in the UK, therefore, this is clearly an area requiring increased focus for that one per cent to benefit from early diagnosis and increased survival rates.”
The spokesman added: “If you have symptoms of bowel cancer it is important that you see your GP for further investigation. Symptoms include but are not limited to: bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, needing to poo more or less often than you are used to, stomach pain or unexplained weight loss.”
To donate to the fundraiser to help Ruby visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rubys-fundraiser?.
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