Bowel cancer symptoms: Huntingdon woman, 24, shares signs to look out for after four year diagnosis relief

It took four years of symptoms before Sophie Anderson was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A 24-year-old woman from Huntingdon, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before she turned 22, has shared her four year battle searching for a diagnosis.

When Sophie Anderson first started feeling unwell, she was told by a doctor not to search for her symptoms on the Internet because it was likely results would show bowel cancer – and medics claimed she was too young.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The constant agonising over her condition came after Sophie told doctors about her family's history of bowel cancer but, instead, they told her it might be constipation.

It took four years of symptoms before Sophie Anderson, now 24, was diagnosed with bowel cancer (image: Bowel Cancer UK)It took four years of symptoms before Sophie Anderson, now 24, was diagnosed with bowel cancer (image: Bowel Cancer UK)
It took four years of symptoms before Sophie Anderson, now 24, was diagnosed with bowel cancer (image: Bowel Cancer UK)

She said: “Actually hearing the words ‘you have bowel cancer’ was such a relief for me that they had found something that could be treated and that I could just get on with my life.

“So no I didn't cry, but I did get angry. I had been suffering for four years and felt like my health wasn't being taken seriously.

"I was told by a handful of doctors it could be irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, colon spasms, constipation, but cancer was never brought up.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sophie first started getting symptoms when she was 18 years old but didn't get diagnosed for nearly four years.

Read More
Over £5,000 raised in a week to pay for specialist bowel cancer treatment for 27...

What symptoms did Sophie suffer from?

Sophie suffered from back pain, bloating, was passing blood and had fatigue.

But it took her losing six stone very suddenly and becoming incontinent before getting a diagnosis following a colonoscopy.

Now she’s been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome.

Sophie has been given the all clear – after she was diagnosed again before she turned 23 – but she’s now in remission again.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Medics found a large polyp just above Sophie’s my rectum and had taken a biopsy before she was referred to a specialist who found out her diagnosis.

Bowel cancer has made headlines this year after campaigner Dame Deborah James.

Known by her social media handle, Bowelbabe, Deborah, who raised almost £7 million for cancer research, died on June 28 at the age of 40, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 35.

‘I was just getting sicker’

Sophie added: “Six months before getting diagnosed, I remember lying in bed thinking I'm going to die before they ever figure out what's wrong with me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I was told to change my diet, take laxatives, take irritable bowel syndrome medication, not to sit on the toilet for too long, take antibiotics, take iron tablets but these things obviously didn't make a difference.

“The constant back and forth I had with my GP was exhausting and I was just getting sicker.”

I've gone through chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, four surgeries, sepsis, one skin graft, Ramsay Hunt syndrome and a stroke.

The 24-year-old has also had her pelvis reconstructed, had a full hysterectomy – as well as her rectum, part of her bowel, bladder, and tailbone removed – and some of the nerves to her left leg cut.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She’s also have two permanent stomas (colostomy and urostomy) and along with not being able to walk properly, she will be disabled for the rest of her life.

She said: “Now that I'm starting to feel more myself I want to share my story.

"I hope that it could encourage more young people to get help if they are experiencing symptoms because being told 'you're way too young' simply doesn't cut it anymore.”