Australian Mom's Fight for Correct Diagnosis
- An Australian mom of two from Syndey was misdiagnosed with a stomach bug after receiving a correct diagnosis of stage 4 bowel cancer.
- Her earliest symptoms were cramps and vomiting. Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
- Always advocate fiercely for your health; push for answers, experts tell Survivornet.
The Sydney resident’s story provides a good example of the importance of pushing for a correct diagnosis. Misdiagnoses do happen, so be sure to push for answers when it comes to your health. You are your own best advocate.
Australian Mom’s Bowel Cancer JourneyRead More
She says, “Leading up to my diagnosis in early January I had a Friday night pizza with the family. A few hours after eating it, my tummy was rumbling out of control. At 2am in the morning I needed to empty my bowel and at the same time violently started vomiting – I vomited until every bit of pizza was out of my body.”
When she received a proper diagnosis, she was told she had stage 3 bowel cancer and obstruction of the bowel and that she needed surgery. After surgery and when she was beginning chemotherapy, doctors informed her that her cancer had spread to her ovaries and it was stage 4.
“We then changed our treatment plan to be more aggressive and I had intensive chemotherapy and was scheduled to have a peritonectomy plus HIPEC which removed many things in September,” she recalls.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, says the National Health Service. Depending on where cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer.
This cancer typically presents in people over the age of 60. In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women, excluding skin cancers. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed this year.
After the Australian mom’s diagnosis, she says, “I went into shock and disbelief. After a restless evening and the inability to eat or drink anything due to the pending surgery, I woke on April 25 where I got wheeled away to the operating theatre. I was in tears and extremely fearful of the unknown.”
Pushing for a Correct Diagnosis
Farquhar recalls the start of her health troubles, saying, “In March after one particular dinner [I got nauseous] again. At that time, she took initiative even more. Farquhar says, “I contacted the local doctor and had an appointment. I advised him of my symptoms and he simply said it’s nothing to worry about it’s just a tummy bug.”
However, Farquhar actually had stage 4 bowel cancer and later received a correct diagnosis. It’s important to keep pushing for answers and tell your medical team exactly what you are experiencing. She says, “I wasn’t satisfied and asked for a full blood test and some referrals. By this point it had been a couple of months between each episode. I asked for a referral for a gastroenterologist and an allergy specialist.”
Farquhar recalls, “As soon as I had the referral, I made an appointment. The allergy specialist indicated I didn’t have an allergy and the gastroenterologist indicated I most likely had some digestion issues so put me on some herbal medication for this.” Her digestion issues were, in fact, cancer.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” one cancer expert told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional– that’s what I do for all of my patients.”