A fitness fanatic – who worked out nearly daily, didn’t smoke, and rarely drank alcohol – was shocked to learn of her colon cancer diagnosis.
The youth worker, who lives in Australia, first realised something wasn’t right when she noticed specks of blood in her poo.
“The doctor was very dismissive,” Vanessa claimed to 7news. “I felt like I was overreacting, I felt silly.”
Vanessa said: “It got to the point where I was just passing blood. But I was told there was nothing they could do until I got a colonoscopy.”
Initially put on a two-year wait list for testing, the scan was moved forward when Vanessa complained of other symptoms.
Vanessa revealed she was suffering from severe cramps and a change in her bowel movements.
When medical staff investigated, the team discovered a peach-sized tumour in Vanessa’s rectum.
“I just went blank. I had no words,” Vanessa said of the moment she received the life-changing diagnosis.
“I remember saying, ‘I just want to go home.’ It’s such a horrible feeling sitting in a room and being told you have cancer.”
Told to freeze some of her eggs before treatment, for fertility purposes, Vanessa then underwent a seven-hour op to have the tumour removed.
For an additional 18 weeks, Vanessa had nine rounds of chemotherapy.
In April 2023, Vanessa – now 29 – was told that her cancer was in remission.
However, every year, Vanessa still needs to have a colonoscopy to check whether the cancer has returned.
Vanessa said: “We’ve been told our whole life [that cancer’s] an old person’s disease. But it’s not. You are not too young.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t matter how healthy or how much money you have, anyone can get it.”
The main symptoms of bowel cancer, as pointed out by the NHS, can include:
- Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
- Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
- Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
- Bleeding from your bottom
- Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
- Tummy pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling very tired for no reason.
Anybody experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than three weeks is strongly advised to book a doctor’s appointment.