Woman repeatedly told pain was UTI before doctors discovered huge tumour

Surgeons performed a hysterectomy on March 13, 2024 to remove Emily-Jane's tumours
Surgeons performed a hysterectomy on March 13, 2024 to remove Emily-Jane's tumours -Credit:Collect/PA Real Life

A woman was left shocked after discovering a 17cm ovarian tumour that had been mistaken for a urinary infection during three online doctor consultations.

Emily-Jane Siviter, 29, from Bangor, was repeatedly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and prescribed antibiotics after describing her symptoms to doctors over video calls.

However, in December 2023, she noticed a lump near her right hip and an elevation on one side of her body. Subsequent scans revealed the lump to be a large tumour on her ovary, pressing against her bladder and causing pain when she used the toilet.

READ MORE: Biker killed in crash was 'life of the party' whose 'daughter was his world'

READ MORE: Gran, 79, left screaming in agony after terrifying Welsh funfair attack as family demand answers

Emily-Jane was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer and had an operation to remove the dangerous cells and part of her intestine in March 2024, which means she can no longer have children and will likely have to use a stoma bag for the rest of her life.

"I gave them all my symptoms and said, 'I've already been diagnosed previously with the UTI, had the antibiotics and that hasn't worked'," Emily-Jane told PA Real Life.

"I think if they had done a blood test, it would have alerted them to do more tests... and they would have figured it out sooner."

"If a GP had seen my records, you would think they would have said 'Oh OK, she's been on this three times, just come and get your blood taken so we can do a bit more research rather than just saying it's a UTI again."

Due to her poor health, Emily-Jane – who lives with boyfriend Garin Hughes, 29, in shared housing – has been forced to quit her jobs at a telecoms company and Starbucks, and has been relying on friends and family to support her recovery. Her sisters, Aimee and Lydia-Jane, have launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe to support her recovery.

In July 2023, Emily-Jane contacted her GP after feeling sharp pains every time she urinated. "Just before I finished peeing, that's when I felt the pain, like a pressure," she said.

She had an online appointment with a doctor who prescribed antibiotics to treat a UTI. When the pain did not subside, Emily-Jane contacted a different online doctor service hoping they would shed some light on her symptoms.

Again, they said it sounded like a UTI and prescribed her a second round of antibiotics, which again failed to soothe the pain.

By the end of October, the pain was becoming unbearable so Emily-Jane contacted her GP for a second time, only to be given the same diagnosis during another remote appointment. "It got to the point where every time I finished peeing, I had to, like, clench myself to let the rest come out," she said.

At first she thought the antibiotics could be working but the pain returned and then, in mid-December, Emily-Jane was lying in bed when she felt a lump near her right hip.

"It was just by chance really," she said. "I could feel it and I could literally see it – my right side was raised up more than my left."

An ultrasound at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor on New Year's Eve revealed a suspected 17cm complex cyst on her ovary.

"I was like 'Oh bloody hell that's why it had been hurting', because it had been pushing on my bladder," Emily-Jane said. A CT scan showed a 7cm cyst on her other ovary.

Emily-Jane opted to have a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the womb, even before the cancer was confirmed. It proved to be the right choice for her when a biopsy in early February revealed she had stage three low-grade serous ovarian cancer.

On March 13 doctors operated to remove the tumours and her reproductive organs, along with any cancerous cells. While the surgery was judged a success, Emily-Jane must now use a stoma bag, which allows waste to leave her body, because part of her intestine was also removed during the procedure.

Emily-Jane opted to have a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the womb
Emily-Jane opted to have a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the womb -Credit:Collect/PA Real Life

"Unfortunately they gave me a stoma because there was too much damage to my bowel," she said. I don't think it can be reversed because they took quite a large bit off." Emily-Jane has also started chemotherapy in case there are any rogue cancer cells left.

"From January until now it's just been crap," she said and offered advice to anyone in a similar situation. If you are not getting any help from the GP and you've got some kind of unfamiliar pain, just request a blood test because then they'll get serious."

Because she has not been working since she left her telecoms job in January, Emily has applied for benefits. "I've applied for universal credit but it takes so long for them to verify your illness so I've just been getting the standard allowance," she said.

In the meanwhile, she has been depending on family and friends for support, having only received two £300 payments since stopping work.

Emily-Jane had an operation to remove the cancerous cells in March 2024 and part of her intestine
Emily-Jane had an operation to remove the cancerous cells in March 2024 and part of her intestine -Credit:Collect/PA Real Life

To help Emily-Jane during this "incredibly stressful" time, her sisters have launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe which has received just shy of £4,000 in donations.

"Thank you for all the support that I've been given," she said. "It's going to really help me move forward and adjust to this new life."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "GP practices in Wales are required to offer a blended model of access that includes a mix of face-to-face and remote consultations that are appropriate to patient need.

"We expect practices to follow professional guidance issued by the General Medical Council and Royal College of General Practitioners on the use of remote consultations in general practice."

To find out more about how to support Emily-Jane visit: www.gofundme.com/f/helping-ems.

Sign up now for the latest news on the North Wales Live Whatsapp community

See the news in your area: