Lifestyle

Doctors said nothing was wrong at first, but I knew my strange symptoms were big red flags

A WOMAN with a tumor eating through her gut wall has urged others to press for answers when they feel fobbed off by doctors.

Patricia Leaver was forced to dive into her savings to get private tests she knew she needed after doctors couldn’t find anything wrong.

Patricia Leaver had been suffering from red flag symptoms as she pushed for further testing

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Patricia Leaver had been suffering from red flag symptoms as she pushed for further testingPhoto credit: Colorectal Cancer UK

The then 58-year-old was suffering from abdominal pain that wouldn’t go away after waking up in agony one day in February 2021.

In recent years, she had also noticed a change in her toilet habits and an unrelenting itch in her butt.

Tests couldn’t find anything unusual and doctors warned any referral would take a long time thanks to Covid residues.

But like them fast Lost weight and had trouble eatingPatricia decided to take matters into her own hands.

She used some savings to go private and speed up the schedule.

Patricia told The Sun: “I’m in absolute agony and I’m losing weight and they said ‘there’s nothing we can do as you’re in the middle of Covid and nothing seems wrong’.

“I got lucky and decided to go private and I’m really aware that it’s not possible for everyone.

“The clinician said to me if you’re sure this is happening, you’re fit and not sick.”

But her instincts were right as a scan showed she had an intussusception where the intestines overlap.

It’s common in babies but rare in adults – her doctor thought it was a tumor causing it, which was confirmed by a colonoscopy.

She said, “They took me to a small room and told me that they found an 8 cm tumor, which was malignant.

“I asked the doctor how he knew it was malignant if he hadn’t tested it and he replied he’d seen enough of them. It was like someone hitting me with a massive concrete ball.

“They gave me a piece of paper with the colon cancer care team number on it but told me not to call until the following Friday as they would be busy over the bank holiday weekend. I was so scared.”

Just over two months after first noticing the pain, she underwent robotic surgery to remove 27 nodes and a meter of her dead intestine.

She said: “Thank god that’s what happened to me when they said if I hadn’t taken myself to the private hospital my tumor would have eaten through my gut wall.”

Patricia praised her surgeon Subash Dasudevan, his team and the Cancer Well Being Center where she was treated.

Early diagnosis is crucial for all types of cancer, but especially colorectal cancer, where unfortunately symptoms often do not appear until the disease is advanced.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, affecting both men and women.

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Every 15 minutes someone gets colon cancer. That’s almost 43,000 people every year, almost 120 people every day.

The five main symptoms of people diagnosed with it are blood in the stool, a Change in bowel habitsStomach pain, weight loss and unexplained tiredness.

Of the warning signs, she added: “Not everyone is going to have a stomach ache.

“The only thing I could really point to was the constant itching in my back gear.

“No one said anything about the gut, everyone just looked up.

“There just doesn’t seem to be any recognition of this in GPs, which I think should be something that really needs to be highlighted.

“The people I’ve met range from 20 to 70.

“I would say whatever your GP says, don’t be put off by it, just keep going. Don’t use ‘Oh, it’s IBS’ or any other excuse, ask for this fitness test.

“I think urge the GP to have their tests done and even if you can’t do it quickly and you have a little money, do a fitness test when you have the money.

“It’s a lifesaver. If diagnosed early enough. I live a perfectly normal life.”

Patricia is an avid hiker and has used it as a way to get through her treatment

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Patricia is an avid hiker and has used it as a way to get through her treatmentPhoto credit: Colorectal Cancer UK
She wants everyone to know that if they know something is wrong, they can reach out for help

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She wants everyone to know that if they know something is wrong, they can reach out for helpPhoto credit: Colorectal Cancer UK

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