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Woman left horrified after constipation turned out to be bowel cancer

Woman left horrified after constipation turned out to be bowel cancer

Stacey was urged to visit the GP by her wife after spotting a pink stain on her loo roll

A woman was left horrified after she discovered her constipation was bowel cancer.

Stacey Rigby, a 41-year-old police officer from Wigan, Greater Manchester, initially thought she was ‘bunged up’ after switching to a high-protein diet.

She noticed she hadn’t had a bowel movement for four days and believed eating eggs every morning as part of a new exercise regime was the cause.

When she was finally able to use the loo she noticed a pale pink stain on the toilet roll after wiping and thinking it was due to straining, she thought no more of it.

Stacey Rigby was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Kennedy News & Media

However Stacey’s concerned wife Jamie Middleton, 36, who is also a police officer, urged her to visit the GP if it happened again. After seeing Dame Deborah James’ campaigning for greater awareness about bowel cancer, Jamie encouraged her wife to book an appointment.

"When I told Jamie she said 'well if it doesn't go you'll have to go to the doctors',” Stacey recalled.

"As soon as I saw it again I thought 'I'm going to have to go', just for peace of mind.”

Stacey’s doctor performed an examination and asked her to give stool samples for further investigation and booked her in for a colonoscopy.

She was stunned when doctors told her they had discovered a 4cm grade 2 cancerous tumour that they estimated she had been living with for two years.

"When the consultant said they'd found a tumour it was devastating,” Stacey said.

"You're questioning everything and you think 'God I'm only 41' and you have all these thoughts like 'am I going to die? Has it spread? How long have I had it?'."

Days after receiving the shock diagnosis, she underwent a gruelling five-hour operation to remove the mass along with 17cm of bowel.

A week on from her surgery, Stacey now faces an anxious wait to see if the cancer has spread into her lymph nodes and if she needs chemotherapy.

Stacey said: “He did the examination and to be fair it was over in seconds. He said he couldn't feel anything but to be on the safe side gave me three stool tests to do.

"I was told it had come up as a high reading [of blood] that can indicate bowel cancer but that it could be IBS or Crohn's.

Stacey's wife urged her to speak to a GP.
Kennedy News & Media

"I had a colonoscopy and they found a 3-4 cm tumour. The consultant said 'even though I can't say 100%, I know this is cancer'."

In addition to bowel habit changes, Stacey experienced other symptoms including extreme tiredness, something she put down to working long hours.

She also had an itchy bum, which she assumed was irritation caused by gym clothing.

"I had been tired for months but I thought it was from working long hours, but I don't feel that tired now even after recovering from my operation.

"My other symptom was a very itchy bum. A lot of the time it happened when I'd been exercising or been to the gym so I thought 'I must have got hot and sweaty in my leggings'.

"It never made me think something was wrong, I just thought something was irritating me."

After a biopsy confirmed it was cancer, Stacey underwent surgery at The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on September 26th. She first noticed the pink stains on her loo roll in early August.

She's now waiting to see if the cancer has spread and if she needs further treatment.

Stacey said: "There was no history in the family. They did gene testing and it came back negative, I was just unlucky.”

Stacey said: "People were saying 'you're not the age to get bowel cancer, you're only 41' but younger people are getting cancer and it can happen to anyone.

"Because it's your bum, we get embarrassed about it but it's just a part of your anatomy.

"From going to the doctors to going in for my operation I only saw blood twice so I could have very easily ignored my symptoms and if I'd ignored it God knows where I'd have been.

Stacey is now waiting to hear if the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes.
Kennedy News & Media

"My advice would be to just listen to your body and don't be embarrassed to see a professional and get something checked out.

"I probably wouldn't have gone to the doctors if Deborah James hadn't passed away because she was a similar age to me.

"All the campaigning she did and raising that awareness - it made me think 'it happened to her, I need to go and get checked out'.

"It's a very curable disease if it's found early."

Bowel cancer is cancer that's found anywhere in the large bowel, which includes the colon and rectum. Symptoms can include the following:

  • 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
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason.

You can donate Dame Deborah James' Bowel Babe fund here.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News & Media

Topics: Health, Life, Real Life