Jess, 24, was misdiagnosed by doctors for eight months. She was told she had acid reflux, anorexia, bulimia, mental illness and even tuberculosis before a chance scan found a tumour. In July 2015 she was told she had six to 12 months to live but is still bravely fighting. Here she tells her story.
“It all started in December 2014. I woke up in the middle of the night vomiting acid. I saw my GP who said it was acid reflux. But over the next month, I vomited everything I ate.
“I went back to the doctor a second and third time because I knew something wasn’t right. They told me everything was fine, but I didn’t get better.
“On several occasions I went to A&E and begged them to help me. I was on anti-depressants as I was suffering from post-natal depression.
Something wasn't right
“One doctor said to me: ‘I see you have mental health issues. Maybe this is part of it?’ I couldn’t believe what he was suggesting. Others insisted I was anorexic or bulimic because I’d lost so much weight from the vomiting.
I’m speaking out because I don’t want other young adults like me to be misdiagnosed.
In March 2015 Jess had an ectopic pregnancy and went in for surgery. Doctors took biopsies and diagnosed Jess with tuberculosis, starting her on treatment before realising she didn’t have it.
They later sent Jess for an MRI scan and found a tumour in her stomach.
Jess continues: “I was told I had a rare cancer called peritoneal cancer and that I had six to 12 months left to live. I couldn’t believe it. My thoughts went to my three-year-old son Jace. How could I leave him motherless?
For two months Jess believed she had less than a year to live, but was then offered chemotherapy and underwent two cycles before feeling brave enough to meet an oncologist for a second opinion.
The oncologist said she should never have been told she only had months to live because it wasn’t certain how she would react to treatment.
Getting the message out
Jess says: “They still don’t know how long I’ve got, but now I’m finally getting the right care, thanks to CLIC Sargent."
Jess was supported by CLIC Sargent Social Worker Elsa, who she describes as 'amazing'.
She said: "When you’re not in the world of cancer you never hear about what help is available but she explained who she was and what she does.
"I don’t know what it would be like without Elsa. I would not know a lot of things about the support that’s available. I would be a big mess."
Jess added: "Cancer in young people needs to be recognised. I want to get the message out there that it can happen to young people. It happened to me."
Jess is supporting CLIC Sargent's Better care for young cancer patients campaign - which is calling for change in the health and care system so that young cancer patients get the best possible care and support from diagnosis.