- A woman was diagnosed with cancer, which she thought was muscle pain from carrying her baby.
- Symptoms of colon cancer include stomach pain, blood in the stool, and changes in bowel habits.
- More and more young people are getting colon cancer.
Leeanne Davies-Grassnick was in Greece on her first holiday with her four-month-old son and wife when she began to experience sharp pains under her ribs.
The 38-year-old from Germany struggled to walk for more than 10 minutes because of the pain but thought she had injured a muscle carrying her son, Caspar, she told Bowel Cancer UK.
Three days after she landed at home in London, the pain under her rib got worse, so she went to the emergency room. After four days of testing, Davies-Grassnick was diagnosed with colon cancer – a form of colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer – that had spread to her liver.
“I kept saying ‘my baby, my poor baby,'” she said.
More and more young people are getting colon cancer
Davies-Grassnick told Insider she is sharing her story to raise awareness of cancer, particularly colon cancer, and referenced the growing number of diagnoses among young people.
In its 2023 report on colorectal cancer statistics, the American Cancer Society said that one in five new cases of colon and rectal cancer occur in young people, in their early fifties or younger.
The ACS said many colon cancer deaths could be prevented by screening, but among young people this is low.
It also said that half of colon cancer cases happen due to external factors such as drinking, smoking and an unhealthy diet.
Symptoms of colon cancer include changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the anus, blood in the stool, and abdominal 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 because of the tumors. One was six inches wide.
She said the tumors in her liver were so large that they stretched the liver capsule, causing the pain under her rib.
She began chemotherapy on May 20, 2022, which reduced the size of the tumor by August and stopped the cancer from spreading. But surgeons couldn’t 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 terrified of the surgery, especially since she had to take a four-week break from chemotherapy to prepare and her cancer was aggressive.
“We went home to Germany and I saw my family and had a normal Christmas. Baby Caspar, our son, turned one,” she said.
Three days before Davies-Grassnick was scheduled for surgery, the surgeon reviewed her CT scans and decided he wouldn’t be able to remove the awkwardly placed tumor.
The surgery was canceled and she received chemo again the following week.
“The plan now is just to continue with chemo as long as it works,” she said, “and I hope the science really progresses as we continue.”
Davies-Grassnick said being diagnosed with cancer was a lonely experience and sharing her experience on her Instagram helped her digest it.
“I hope it also helps anyone else who reads it, sees it, is going through something similar or has a loved one who is going through it,” she said.
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