Amanda Crossley, pictured centre, first complained of a pain in her stomach when pregnant with her second child
A mum-of-two has been diagnosed with stage-four bowel cancer months after her concerns about symptoms were repeatedly dismissed.
Amanda Crossley, 32, from Queensland, has a strong family history of the disease. Her mother got it aged 40, her aunty was diagnosed at 35 – and her grandmother had it too.
But when she went to the doctor complaining of ‘textbook’ symptoms of the disease, and with a brief outline of her family history, she was sent home.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Amanda said her doctor told her the pain she was feeling above her belly button was likely her ‘abs separating’ as she was 20 weeks pregnant with her second baby.
‘I went home and tried to push through but within weeks the pain was radiating up my right side,’ she said.
When she brought it up with the doctor she was told not to worry.
Once her daughter was born Amanda expected the pain to go away – as her doctor had suggested.
Instead it got worse.
‘She then gave me some stool softeners and said I was probably constipated,’ Amanda said.
But the softeners didn’t ease the discomfort at all.
She was told the pain was a symptom of pregnancy – but it continued after she gave birth
Doctors gave the 32-year-old laxatives and said she was probably constipated
‘I went back every two weeks, I Googled my symptoms and I even told her that I ticked every box for bowel cancer,’ she said.
Her doctor then had to take a week off – so Amanda was left to explain to yet another GP about her issues.
The doctor also suggested the laxatives and took tests which revealed the mum’s iron levels were low.
‘I wanted more answers so I went back to my doctor a week later and demanded more tests,’ she said.
She said her doctor finally sent her in for a stool sample, CT scan and ultrasound.
‘I knew it was cancer for sure when my doctor phoned the day after my CT scan and asked me to come in immediately,’ she said.
‘They were usually very hard to get into. I will never forget the look on [the doctor’s] face, their eyes told me I was right.’
Since her diagnosis Amanda’s world has been turned upside down.
The 32-year-old was rushed into surgery days later where doctors removed a third of her bowel.
Weeks later she demanded more tests and a CT scan confirmed her worst fears – she had bowel cancer, a disease her mum, aunt and grandma all fought
‘It was keyhole surgery but they had to cut another slit because the mass from the tumour was too big to fit through the first hole,’ she said.
Now Amanda is resting at home – trying to heal as quickly as possible so she can start with the next steps – which likely include chemotherapy.
The mum is determined to beat the cancer and refuses to call the stage-four disease terminal.
‘I have two little girls, I will beat this because I have no choice but to beat it,’ she said.
Doctors have been careful to explain things to Amanda one step at a time.
The mother-of-two was taken to hospital where a third of her bowel was removed – including the main tumour which was larger than expected
‘They explained it spread to my liver and lymph nodes but didn’t say much more. I don’t think they wanted to overload me,’ she said.
The proficient Googler has continued to look-up more information on the disease since she was diagnosed.
‘Some people to survive – and they haven’t talked prognosis – but there is that statistic there,’ she said.
Amanda told her sister to get checked properly after the disease was found as the cancer is so common in her family.
She is now resting at home – but will return to hospital once she has regained her strength – to receive further therapy as the tumour had moved to her liver and lymph nodes
Symptoms of bowel cancer:
– Change in bowel habits with diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying
– Thin or loose bowel movements
– Blood or mucous in stools
– Anal or rectal pain
Lump in the anus or rectum
– Unexplained weight loss
– Unexplained anaemia
– Abdominal pain, bloating and cramping
Source: Cancer Council
‘It makes me terrified that one or both of my girls will face the same problem one day,’ she said.
Amanda has met young people with the cancer since being diagnosed and wants doctors to stop dismissing it as ‘an old man’s disease’.
‘I really as a whole do like my doctor and I think they do a good job. I just wish they had listened to me and don’t want anyone else to go through this,’ she said.
Amanda regrets not pushing harder or demanding more tests when she first realised something was wrong.
She said she has suffered from digestive issues including bloating and thin bowel movements ‘for years’.
Blood tests also showed she had low iron, which went hand-in-hand with the fatigue and pain she was experiencing.