A woman was diagnosed with bowel cancer after thinking she just had IBS

A ‘fit and healthy’ woman was diagnosed with bowel cancer in her thirties, after thinking her symptoms were not just irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Mother of two Nikita Williamson was heartbroken when she discovered her bloating and bloody stools were not the result of piles or a chronic digestive condition.

Nikita underwent surgery in October 2023 to remove a cancerous tumor, along with her cervix, ovaries and uterus. The operation was successful, and Nikita is now in a stage known as ‘No Evidence of Disease’ (NED).

She claims she is in constant pain and is adjusting to life with a stoma after having one fitted. The 37-year-old admitted that she is ‘forever changed’, reports the Express.

Speaking to NeedToKnow, Nikita, from Ipswich, said: “My biggest hurdle yet is learning who I am now. Embracing the new normal.

“I will never be the person I was before the diagnosis. I am often called inspirational because of the way I handled my diagnosis, but I wish people would understand how much of a fraud this makes me feel.

Nikita with her stoma bag

Nikita with her stoma bag -Credit:Jam Press/@livinglifewithbc

“To me, being inspirational is doing something that you don’t have to do for any other reason than to give back and make the world a better place. any choice. I’ll do anything to have more time with those I love.”

In late 2022, Nikita began experiencing unusual bloating and noticed blood in her stool. At first, she thought it was just IBS and piles, so she changed her diet and tried over-the-counter treatments.

But feeling ill at Christmas, Nikita’s partner, Millie, urged her to consult a doctor. A faecal immunochemical test (FIT) showed abnormalities, prompting a colonoscopy.

Reflecting on the diagnosis, Nikita shared: “I was taken to recovery, and some time later, the doctor and nurse returned. It was at this point that the doctor told me, ‘It’s probably bowel cancer .’

“I will never forget how I felt when he said this. I felt completely numb but also relieved. Finally, I knew what was wrong, and I could deal with it.”

Nikita with her partner, Millie.Nikita with her partner, Millie.

Nikita with her partner, Millie. -Credit: Jam Press/@livinglifewithbc

Support from her partner Millie was unwavering, she says. “My partner was also in complete shock, but he was an incredible support from the moment I found out. I waited until I had my scan, and I knew my stage and what the treatments would be​​​​ to have before I told my children.”

Nikita has maintained transparency with her children throughout her journey: “I have been very honest with them every step of the way and they know they can ask me anything they need and I will always do my best to answer.”

Although the mother’s surgery in 2023 went well, Nikita is still dealing with the mental and physical fallout from her cancer and treatment. She said: “I live in pockets of time between appointments. I can relax and enjoy life, but I am forever changed.

“Not only do I have a stoma but I’m also currently awaiting a urodynamic test as I haven’t been able to pass urine without a catheter since my surgery. Before my diagnosis and treatments, I was a very fit woman and healthy 36 years old.

“Even though I’m slowly getting my fitness back, I’m always in pain. I always struggle with fatigue and I rely heavily on various medications to get through the day.”

Despite their ordeal, Nikita is looking forward. She said: “I will continue to enjoy as many precious moments as I can with my wonderful family and friends, and I can. You never truly understand how much you love and who you love or until you go through something like this.”

“Cancer has taught me to never take a day for granted and to go for something if I want it because who knows tomorrow.”

What is bowel cancer and what are the symptoms?

Bowel cancer can develop in any part of the large intestine, such as the colon and rectum, which are essential components of the digestive system. The severity of bowel cancer varies depending on the size of the tumor, whether it has metastasized, and your overall health. In the UK, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Early detection through bowel cancer screening can lead to more effective treatment options.

According to the NHS, bowel cancer symptoms may include:

  • changes in your poo, such as softer poo, unusual diarrhea or constipation

  • you need to poo more often or less than usual

  • blood in your poo, it may look red or black

  • bleeding from your bottom

  • you often feel the need to poo, even if you’ve just gone to the toilet

  • pain in the abdomen

  • a lump in your stomach

  • bloating

  • to lose unwanted weight

  • feeling very tired for no reason

Bowel cancer can cause anemia (when you have fewer red blood cells than normal), which can make you feel very tired, breathless and have headaches.

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