Mum diagnosed with stage 4 cancer after being told she was 'too young' to display symptoms

Jessica at the Cancer Centre with her sons
Jessica at the Cancer Centre with her sons -Credit:Belfast Live

A mum has been diagnosed with stage four cancer after being told she was 'too young' to be displaying symptoms.

Jessica Sturgeon, 30, from Newtonabbey in Belfast, began experiencing stomach pain and was passing blood in 2021. After putting off a colonoscopy, she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer at the age of 28.

The mum-of-two told our sister title, Belfast Live: "One day I was totally fine, and then the pain suddenly came on. I was vomiting too, and had hot sweats, so my family rushed me to the doctors, who sent me to A&E, and it was originally thought that I had kidney stones, or a serious kidney infection.

Jessica at the Cancer Centre with her sons
Jessica at the Cancer Centre with her sons

"This went on until February 2022, and at that point, they were querying IBS or Crohn's Disease. I was admitted to hospital and was there overnight, and I was given laxatives.

"I was in A&E about 20 times in a year, with the pains, and the tests showed inflammation in my bowel. An X-RAY showed nothing, but if I had CT, it maybe would have shown up.

"Then in July 2022, I started to pass blood going to the bathroom and every time I needed to go to the toilet, it always felt like there was something there, but I couldn't go. We went to the caravan in July and I took very ill - I thought I was dying. I was vomiting a brown substance and my urine was almost black.

"Blood tests came back and they thought I had Irritable Bowel Disease - they told me it wasn't cancer - then three months later, I went for a colonoscopy, and was diagnosed with cancer."

Jessica underwent gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which threw her into early menopause. And in order to prevent the cancer from recurring, the mum has also made the decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

She said: "In February, on my son's birthday, I was told that a scan showed no evidence of disease. That was amazing news for me and my family. Now I want to raise awareness for bowel cancer, because have told me they thought it was more associated with older people, but I wasn't even 30 when I was diagnosed.

"When people hear you are diagnosed with stage 4, they think it is the end, but it isn't. People do think it is for older people, and when I did attend for chemo, I was always the youngest there, but I want to highlight this, to highlight symptoms too.

"I put off going for a colonoscopy because I was so scared of it, but now I just want to tell anyone who is nervous, or having these symptoms, please speak out. I would go through the colonoscopy over and over again, as opposed to what I did go through with the cancer.

"I also would like to say a massive thanks to all the nurses at Laurel House in Antrim, to Dr Corey and Dr Davidson, Mr McAree and Dr Baranowski - they saved my life. I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Radiotherapy Department at the Cancer Centre at the City Hospital. They are amazing."

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