Fighting For Her Children
- Lynn Fraser experienced stomach-related symptoms for two years, which led doctors to believe it was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it wound up being stage 4 bowel cancer.
- Prior to Lynn receiving her official diagnosis, a doctor she went to for a second opinion had told her it was PID, pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Never be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about concerning symptoms. Go to as many doctors as necessary until you figure out what is causing your health problems. Here at SurvivorNet, we cannot stress this enough.
Lynn Fraser, 35, experienced stomach pain for two years, “gurgling” in her stomach, and a bit of nausea after she ate, which led doctors to believe it was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a highly common diagnosis—especially for someone her age. Then Lynn’s world came crashing down when they discovered it was stage 4 cancer.Read More
Prior to Lynn receiving her official diagnosis, a doctor she went to for a second opinion had told her it was PID, pelvic inflammatory disease.
In the doctors’ defense, all of these symptoms are so common for many conditions. IBS and PID are typical conditions for what a woman Lynn’s age would be dealing with. Unfortunately, many times you need multiple opinions to get to the bottom of what is going on with your health. Most of the time, it is just IBS or PID, but for Lynn, it was sadly not the case.
“I’ve been quite positive,” Lynn said of her overall battle, “I just wish it was caught sooner. My reaction has been ‘I’m going to fight it.'”
The mom-of-two, who has two young boys, Matt, 7, and Jackson, 3, is now undergoing palliative chemotherapy, which is treatment given to control symptoms and improve quality of life. Lynn is spending as much quality time as she can with her husband, David, an oil rigger, in Aberdeen, England, where the family resides.
“The sooner it’s diagnosed, the better chance of it being treatable,” she said. “I want to tell people to get checked if you’re worried about any little thing niggling you. Don’t hold back out of embarrassment.”
“I didn’t have many of the obvious symptoms like blood in the stools,” she said of her bowel cancer diagnosis. If I had, I’d have pushed for tests straight away.”
Meanwhile, the cancer thriver is eating as healthy as she can and doesn’t want to discuss her prognosis with her doctors.
“I actually don’t want to know if I have ‘X’ time left to live,” she said. “I followed Bowel Babe [renowned blogger Deborah James, who died in June], so I generally know the way it could go. But I’ll wait and see.”
Sadly, Lynn says her husband is understandably struggling the most, though she hasn’t told her kids.
“My children don’t really know, but they see I’ve got a PICC line in my arm, so they know that mummy has got something wrong,” she shared of the devastating situation. “They’re not old enough to understand.”
Lynn admits she can’t help but worry if her children will be okay when she’s gone, but that is a common thought for any parent, no matter what stage the cancer is. It’s natural and normal to have those fears. What matter is she is trying to “remain upbeat” and is excited to celebrate her father’s 70th birthday this summer.
As she continues to fight for her family, Lynn wants to get her story out there to urge people to push for their correct diagnosis.
What Exactly is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, but generally we use the term colorectal cancer—or colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on the location—in the United States.
Bowel cancer, like all cancers, presents its own unique challenges for patients on the road to recovery. But Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, wants to remind people how far the treatment of this disease has come.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Yeo says in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Dr. Yeo also reminds people of the importance of colorectal screenings such as colonoscopies because most colorectal cancers can be prevented early with screening.
“In the United States, on a national level, colorectal cancer has been decreasing for the last 20 years,” Dr. Yeo says. “And much of that is thought to be directly due to screening for colon cancer.”
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)
Colorectal cancer might not immediately cause symptoms, but these are possible symptoms to look out for:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
As Lynn mentioned, never be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about concerning symptoms. Go to as many doctors as necessary until you figure out what is causing your health problems. Here at SurvivorNet, we cannot stress this enough.