A young mother who was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic is urging people not to ignore her symptoms. Emma Barber said her early diagnosis saved her life.
Emma, 28, from Worcestershire, was told she had stage three bowel cancer in early 2021. He said that his first thought was, ‘I am too young to have cancer’.
But after six months of treatment, she now has everything and is advising other people – especially those who are young – to be aware of the symptoms and not to bury their heads in the sand. She said that going to her GP as soon as she felt unwell undoubtedly saved her life.
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Emma of Worcester had noticed blood in her stool for some time, but despite having a family history of bowel cancer, she was not too concerned. It was only after she had extreme pain at night and going to the toilet that she got help and her partner contacted her GP.
She was then referred for a colonoscopy at Worcestershire Royal Hospital where she was given the devastating news that she had stage three bowel cancer. Emma said: “I couldn’t believe what they were telling me, I was only 28.
“When you’re told you have cancer, your whole world comes crashing down. I naturally thought I was going to die, I thought about my little boy and my family who needed me.”
Emma did chemotherapy and radiotherapy. “The treatment was intense and I felt completely groggy, but I ended my treatment at the end of March,” she said. “I had some follow-up scans in May and met with my advisor who told me the treatment had worked and that my cancer had cleared up.”
Emma still had to undergo further surgery to remove a cyst and some scars, but was discharged by the end of June. She now wants to warn other young people that they are not immune to bowel cancer.
“No one is too young to have cancer and I will never stop raising awareness about bowel cancer,” she said. “Talk to your family, see your doctor and get their advice, because if I don’t go to the doctors I don’t know what situation I’ll be in now.”
Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, but the chances of survival increase dramatically if it is diagnosed early. Almost all people diagnosed at an early stage will survive bowel cancer but as the disease progresses, it becomes less frequent.
Symptoms of the disease include frequent changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, abdominal pain and discomfort or bloating from always eating. Thousands of young people are also diagnosed each year, despite 94 percent of cases being over the age of 50.
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