'I was told my unborn baby wouldn't survive the surgery, and that I wouldn't survive without it'
Vicky had been ill since having her baby but put it down to recovering from pregnancy. After numerous trips to her GP and a stay in hospital, they found a large tumour blocking her bowel.
This is her story…
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2014. It was 16 months after having my first
child and I was 20 weeks pregnant with my second.
I had been ill since having Maia, but put it down to recovering from pregnancy, tiredness from having a new-born etc. Symptoms persisted and were getting worse each month. I was steadily losing weight, had bouts of severe constipation and constant pain in the side of my tummy. Routine bloods at the beginning of my pregnancy revealed I was also severely anaemic. I made many trips to the doctors but always left with the advice that my body was adjusting after being pregnant and given prescriptions for laxatives as I needed to 'retrain' my bowel to go regularly and to persist with the regime over a longer period of time!
The tummy pains were becoming unbearable. I was taking painkillers every four hours and it was even waking me up through the night as the last lot wore off. I began vomiting and after one particular time alone with my daughter, I called an ambulance. I spent two weeks in hospital on the gynae ward as they didn't know what was causing me to go downhill. I was seen practically every other day by surgical teams who examined and dismissed me needing to be under their care. I had an MRI and ultrasound to see if my bowel was twisted which showed it wasn't.
After my MRI was looked at again they discovered I had a tumour so big it had completely blocked my bowel and grown into my stomach!
I needed emergency surgery but being so weak by this time it came with many risks and it had only a small chance of being successful. I was told that my unborn baby would not survive the operation or any treatment that may follow, and that if I did not have the surgery, I was going to die quite quickly. We were all devastated.
I had two days to spend time with friends and family and, most importantly, Maia before my surgery. Luckily, it was a complete success and we both survived.
In the months following I had I.V chemo every two weeks and another in tablet form in-between. I had a break before Jessica was delivered and then commenced again two weeks after she was born.
I also found out the cancer was genetic, I have something called Lynch Syndrome. Because of this I was advised to consider having a full hysterectomy as a preventive, which I did 12 months later when I also had the rest of my bowel removed and a stoma reversal.
During my time in hospital, I spoke to Pete the founder of Mummy’s Star. Having them support us was like a weight had been lifted. I was added to the private forum where I was able to speak to other mums who were also dealing with cancer in pregnancy and it was and still is amazing to know you're not alone.
Everyone at the charity has been amazing and I consider myself very lucky to know I can still ask for advice at any time should I need it.
There's so many things you don't even think of when you're ill and they are so supportive and informative it's amazing! They were able to offer us a grant which helped with childcare fees and also put me in touch with Homestart set who set us up with a volunteer to come for a few hours a week and help me in day to day things.
Knowing what I now know about Bowel Cancer, I'm shocked that so many young people get dismissed when there are obvious symptoms that should be investigated. I knew my symptoms weren't simply post-pregnancy.
I wish now I'd asked to see another doctor at my practice as I always seem to get booked into the same one. Maybe things could have been diagnosed sooner, but who knows?