Welsh woman told she had common condition and then got a 'terrifying diagnosis'

Lisa Snooks with boyfriend Gareth
-Credit: (Image: Lisa Snooks/SWNS)


A woman who was misdiagnosed for months has spoken out about her ordeal, revealing that doctors insisted she had haemorrhoids while cancer was actually "eating away" at her bowel. Lisa Snooks, 43, endured ongoing haemorrhoid treatments until the pain became unbearable, prompting her to demand further tests for cancer.

After undergoing an endoscopy and MRI in February 2022, Lisa was diagnosed with a severe form of anal cancer which had destroyed parts of her bowel and was protruding externally. By March 2022, she had to have a colostomy bag fitted and later faced an extensive 11-hour operation to remove her pelvic floor, rectum, and vagina, resulting in a cavity wound that requires daily repacking by nurses.

Despite now being in remission, the treatment she underwent has left her struggling with a low platelet count due to damage to her bone marrow. Tragically, she lost her brother to the same condition in February 2021 – and says she's terrified of the future. Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

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She says she's now struggling mentally because of the stress and open cavity wound left behind by surgery. Lisa, from Barry, said: "If I had been seen earlier and I wasn't wrongly treated for six months, my bowel wouldn't have been eaten away," WalesOnline reported.

Lisa added: "To have anal cancer is not something I've ever heard of - as soon as you notice the smallest symptoms go to the doctors straight away."

"I don't remember much after being told I had cancer, I started crying and thought I was going to die and my life was over - I was just broken. It's terrifying, I lost my brother to a low blood platelet count which I now have - I have the same faulty gene. I'm wondering if I'm going to beat this or die the same way as him, it's scary to beat cancer and still be in the same position."

Lisa, who used to work as a lettings branch manager, first went to the doctor after experiencing haemorrhoid-like symptoms in June 2021. However, after following prescribed treatments such as suppositories for five months, her symptoms had only grown worse and she pushed for further tests.

In February 2022 she underwent an endoscopy before being rushed for an MRI - which confirmed her worst fears of a cancer diagnosis. She was diagnosed with anal cancer, which was deemed 'aggressive' and was told it had 'eaten away' large parts of her bowel.

Lisa Snooks in hospital after her surgery
Lisa Snooks in hospital after her surgery -Credit:Lisa Snooks/SWNS

Symptoms of anal cancer include bleeding from the bottom, small lumps, itching and pain, discharge of mucus and incontinence. A permanent colostomy bag was fitted in March 2022 and soon after she began chemotherapy and radiotherapy – undergoing six weeks of radiotherapy seven day a week and chemotherapy four days a week.

However, chemotherapy left her with neutropenic sepsis which saw her whole body reacting to an infection. After finishing treatment in April, she was booked in for surgery in October - but asked for the procedure to be postponed as she felt she wasn't mentally ready.

While waiting for surgery, Lisa said she experienced high levels of pain and was haemorrhaging blood every day and required regular blood transfusions. In February 2023 she spent 11 hours on the operating table while surgeons removed her pelvic floor, rectum and vagina – leaving a cavity wound which she says has not healed and has to be repacked by nurses daily.

Doctors also removed a large strip of muscle from underneath her right rib cage and skin tissue from her stomach to try to rebuild her vagina and create a cover for the wound - but the surgery was unsuccessful. Now, Lisa has been in remission for a year, but says she's still terrified of the future. She said she was waiting to undergo a second bone marrow biopsy to establish a cause and treatment path for her low platelet count.

"It started as something which looked and felt like haemorrhoids, it was painful to wear underwear and sit down and in the end it was painful to walk," said Lisa. "It started bleeding and then I became incontinent which was horrific."

"It's been 16 months since I got out of hospital, but I'm still seeing nurses every day to pack the large cavity in between my legs which never healed up. I lost all my hair [during chemotherapy] and have been wearing wigs for two years."

"Mentally now I'm struggling, the last two years have been traumatic and I'm still living it every day. Mentally I'm drained and tired and scared for the future now, every day I'm scared of what's next. I've been in remission for a year, but I don't know how the future looks yet."

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