Young mum diagnosed with stage 3 cancer after ignoring embarrassing symptom

A young mum initially dismissed an embarrassing symptom which later turned out to be stage 3 cancer.

Jelena Tompkins, from Colorado noticed that her gas was suddenly far more foul-smelling than usual - but she attributed it to her probiotics. She is now speaking out to make sure others don't ignore their telling symptoms after her shock diagnosis.

The 34-year-old had recently completed a half marathon and was maintaining a balanced diet rich in vegetables when she began to notice problems with her gut in 2016.

In an attempt to regulate her gut balance, Ms Tompkins started taking probiotics but failed to notice any improvement. The bloody stool which made its appearance later did not ring alarm bells either.

Her annual health check-up seemed routine and her doctor associated the bleeding with dietary changes, ruling out anything serious.

As months passed, however - and the situation remained unchanged - the decision for further tests was made. Initially aiming at spotting a specific food upsetting her digestive system, these tests led doctors to recommend a colonoscopy, reports the Mirror.

The results delivered a devastating blow; Stage 3 rectal cancer was discovered, already having spread to her lymph nodes. "I was in some of the best shape of my life," a startled Ms Tompkins shared on 'The Patient Story'.

"I ate healthily and never thought that cancer would strike me at such a young age."

For all the latest on news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to The Mirror US.

She detailed her experience of enduring a tough 28 days of radiation therapy. She was prescribed the chemotherapy pill Xeloda, typically used for late-stage colorectal cancer.

Following a two-month rest period, her tumour began to shrink, yet doctors still advised surgery.

Surgeons removed 12 inches of her colon and rectum along with 17 lymph nodes, leaving five cancerous nodes behind. Tompkins then underwent an ileostomy - a procedure where a hole is made in the abdomen, and a piece of the ileum, the lowest part of the small intestine, is brought out through the hole to create a stoma.

This procedure allows food to pass through the stoma into an external pouch instead of through the rectum. Six weeks after the surgery, she started on the combination chemotherapy FOLFOX, finishing in May 2017, just in time to participate in a local race.

Tompkins reports that she is now in remission and undergoing maintenance chemotherapy and annual scans, and she's delighted with her progress. However, it wasn't an easy journey.

With no family history of cancer, she sought support from online patient communities.

"We could vent to each other when we were really tired or ask, 'Hey, is this bothering your system? ' Or, 'Oh my gosh, is your ileostomy going crazy too? What can you do to slow this down? What do you drink when you're going through FOLFOX and you've got that cold sensitivity and everything has to be hot? '".

Adding, "Those are some of the things you don't necessarily bother your oncologist about, but having a friend there to support you through can help bounce ideas off of you and help you feel like you've got a support group that's there for you and that you can reach out to if you're having a bad day."

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.