A NEW MUM has been diagnosed with a deadly cancer after doctors repeatedly misdiagnosed her symptoms.
Jennaca Russ, 37, first started to experience blood in her poo during her second trimester of pregnancy – which as a nurse she knew was a red flag.
Doctors assured the mum-of-one her symptoms were caused by her pregnancy.
But Jennaca, from Oklahoma, US, said she had a "gut feeling it was something more than that".
"I contacted my doctors throughout my whole pregnancy and they said wait until the baby has been born," she explained.
She flagged her symptoms to doctors throughout her pregnancy, but the experts insisted that the bleeding was internal haemorrhoids and said to wait for further tests.
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"I kept getting concerned about the bleeding and I reached out to a doctor and was put in for a colonoscopy," she said.
Jennaca's son, August Russ was born on October 4, 2022and soon after, her symptoms stopped.
But her mum urged her to stick with her colonoscopy appointment and on November 21, 2022 Jennaca went to a digestive disease specialist.
After the appointment, Jennaca was given the devastating news that she had colon cancer, which had spread to her liver, and was given just one year to live.
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In the US, 106,970 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year, the American Cancer Society says.
And in the UK more than 41,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year and that number is increasing, according to the NHS.
"It was a pretty dark day for us, I got the news two or three days before Thanksgiving," the mum said.
A few weeks later, Jennaca had an appointment with an oncologist who changed prognosis.
"He said I have years but it will be a long fight as the survival rate is poor – I have a 10 per cent chance that I will live for five years," she said.
Wanting to defy the odds, Jennaca scheduled an appointment at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, Texas, US
"The doctors there said that my cancer is surgical and they believe they can remove my liver tumours.
"I have my colon cancer surgery at the end of February, they said the cure rate is about 40 per cent which is light years ahead of what I was told before.
"Doctors are still deciding when I will have my liver surgery," she added.
Jennaca said the last few months have been "very emotional" and "very hard" for herself and her husband Cody Russ.
Since being diagnosed, Jennaca has had four rounds of chemotherapy to help shrink the tumours before the operation.
"I am concentrating on enjoying the day-to-day, no matter how this turns out my son will never be a baby again while I am here with him," the mum explained.
After Jennaca lost her job as a nurse due to her illness, her friends launched a GoFundMe to help with living and medical expenses.
So far the page has raised $29,598 (£24,558) of the $50,000 (£41,502) target.
"I want people to be aware to advocate for themselves, colon cancer in younger people is rising dramatically," she said.
One new study has indicated that bowel cancer (colon cancer) cases have doubled in young people over the past three decades.
NHS screening tests, which spot the disease early, are restricted to older people.
That's why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign in April 2018 – to call on the Government to lower the screening age from 60 to 50, which could save 4,500 lives annually.
In the summer of 2018, health secretary Matt Hancock announced screening in England would be lowered to 50 – marking a victory for The Sun and campaigners.
What are the first symptoms of colon cancer?
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, spotting any changes and going to your doctor is vital.
If you notice any of the signs, don't be embarrassed and make sure you speak to your GP.
The five red-flag symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
- A change in your normal toilet habits – going more frequently for example
- Pain or a lump in your tummy
- Extreme tiredness
- Losing weight
Tumours in the bowel typically bleed, which can cause a shortage of red blood cells, known as anaemia. It can cause tiredness and sometimes breathlessness.
In some cases colon cancer can block the bowel, this is known as a bowel obstruction.
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Other signs of colon cancer include:
- Gripping pains in the abdomen
- Feeling bloated
- Constipation and being unable to pass wind
- Being sick
- Feeling like you need to strain – like doing a number two – but after you've been to the loo
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