Mum Given Less Than 18 Months To Live After 'IBS' Turns Out To Be Terminal Cancer
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Shona Johnson, 33, was given just 18 months to live alongside a terminal stomach cancer diagnosis in June 2022, but her ordeal began last year with what were dismissed as innocuous symptoms.
She experienced belly cramps, bloating and weight loss in March of 2021, but when she attended the Royal Berkshire Hospital, she was diagnosed with IBS and a hernia.
The initial investigation into her symptoms involved a CT scan and the insertion of a camera into her throat, which left her relieved when she was told that nothing serious was going on.
This was, in part, because of her age, as nine in 10 people with stomach cancer are over the age of 60, as reported by the NHS.
However, just over a year later, the reality of her condition became apparent when she experienced severe stomach pain and was vomiting blood.
Fluids taken from her stomach revealed that she had cancer, which had gone undetected even after multiple blood tests and CT scans.
This was just weeks after the mum-of-three got married earlier this year, and she was looking to the future and starting up an events business.
Shona is now trying to spend as much time as possible with her husband, Jahred, 28, and her three young children, Kelsey, eight, Alijah, five, and Kaya, three.
Shona, who is from Berkshire, said: "When I first found out it was cancer, I had to walk from my ward in the hospital and tell my mum the bad news.
"I was in shock and everyone around me broke down.
"They were mostly upset as we kept getting reassured it wasn't cancer, even up until the day they told us it was.
"Even that morning, they told me it definitely wasn't cancer.
"We look back at wedding photos and think about how happy we were four months ago.
"It was the happiest day for us to now be facing this and leaving my husband a widower so soon with three babies breaks my heart.
"My husband has been an amazing support and has done his best to balance working and taking care of me and the kids."
Tragically, the presence of cancer in Shona's stomach fluid was a sign that it had spread, and she was told that if she did not have chemotherapy, she'd have just months left to live.
"With chemo I might survive for a year, maybe two," she said.
"I was so scared to leave the hospital as I wasn't sure if I was well enough but I did go home for a week before I was back in hospital with the symptoms again.
"I was vomiting blood, like bile. I was constipated, I had a big, hard bloated belly and the feeling things were moving.
"This time the oncologist team came to see me and explained and delivered the news and information in a much better way."
Shona has now had to endure the heartbreaking task of telling her young children that she will become 'a star', and she is using the time she has left to raise awareness of stomach cancer.
She is also having chemotherapy to extend her life for as long as possible.
Shona said: "I hope that by sharing our story we either helps support someone going through the same thing, break the myth that only a certain age and gender are getting certain types of cancer.
"I think we should have more up today information out there.
"We need to look for new ways to detect cancer as my mum and grandmother both had CT scans just like me and their cancers weren't picked up on until it was too late.
"When I was in hospital, I sadly met a few other young mothers and families whose stories are a lot like mine.
"They knew they were poorly and had all the symptoms but couldn't get to see a doctor face to face or were being misdiagnosed because they were considered too young to get various types of cancer.
"That myth is the reason a lot of us are losing our lives."
A spokesperson for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust said of Shona's case: "We are very sorry to hear of this lady's situation and we will do all we can to support her. We are undertaking a clinical review into the circumstances around her case."
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Shona's family at this difficult time. You can donate here.