- A woman was diagnosed with cancer which she believed to be muscle pain from carrying her baby.
- Symptoms of bowel cancer include stomach pain, blood in stool, and changes in bowel habits.
- More young people are getting colorectal cancer.
Leeanne Davies-Grassnick was in Greece on her first holiday with her four-month-old son and her wife when she started getting sharp pains under her ribs.
The 38-year-old from Germany was struggling to walk for longer than 10 minutes because of the pain, but thought she’d injured a muscle from carrying her son, Caspar, she told Bowel Cancer UK.
Three days after landing back home in London, the pain under her rib got worse so she went to the emergency room. After four days of tests, Davies-Grassnick was diagnosed with colon cancer — a type of bowel cancer, also called colorectal cancer — that had spread to her liver.
“I just kept saying ‘my baby, my poor baby,'” she said.
More young people are getting colorectal cancer
Davies-Grassnick told Insider she’s sharing her story to raise awareness of cancer, especially bowel cancer, and referenced the growing number of diagnoses among young people.
In its 2023 colorectal cancer statistics report, that American Cancer Society said that one in five new cases of colon and rectal cancer are in young people, in their early 50s or younger.
The ACS said that many colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented through screening, but this is low among young people.
It also said that half of colon cancer cases happen due to external factors such as drinking, smoking, and an unhealthy diet.
Symptoms of bowel cancer include: changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the anus, blood in stools, and stomach pain.
Davies-Grassnick said her liver looked like a dalmatian
Davies-Grassnick told Insider that when she was diagnosed, her liver looked like a dalmatian becase of the tumors. One was six inches wide.
She said the tumors in her liver were so large they were stretching the liver capsule, causing the pain below her rib.
She began chemotherapy in May 20 2022, which shrunk the tumor by August and stopped the cancer spreading. But surgeons could not remove one of the tumors in her liver because of its location.
She got a second opinion from another surgeon who said he could remove all the tumors in her liver.
While excited, she said she also felt petrified of the surgery, particularly because she had to take a four-week break from chemotherapy to prepare and her cancer was aggressive.
“We went home to Germany and I got to see my family and have a normal Christmas. Baby Caspar, our son, turned one,” she said.
Three days before Davies-Grassnick was due to have the surgery, the surgeon looked at her CT scans and decided he would not be able to remove the awkwardly positioned tumor.
The surgery was canceled and she was back on chemo the following week.
“The plan now is just to continue on chemo for as long as it works,” she said, “and hope science really develops as we continue.”
Davies-Grassnick said that being diagnosed with cancer was a lonely experience and sharing her experiences on her Instagram helped her to digest it.
“I hope that it also helps somebody else that reads it, sees it, who’s going through something similar or has a loved one going through it,” she said.
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