Understanding Bowel Cancer
- A young mother who was devastated when she was told her heartburn was actually stage 4 bowel cancer is heartbroken once again, as she was recently told her only treatment option is palliative chemotherapy.
- Bowel cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States.
- In the United Kingdom, where 30-year-old Amie Walton lives, bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths.
We last checked in with 30-year-old Amie Walton, from the area of Birmingham, England, when her friend, Jess, and now-fiancé, Chris Mills, 43, started a fundraiser for Amie so she could go through selective internal radiotherapy treatment (SIRT).Read More
Amie was able to have the treatment, but in March of this year, while recovering from the treatment, the family was dealt another blow. She was hoping to undergo a liver resection — the removal of part of the liver — but tests revealed more than 100 tumors growing in Amie’s lungs.
She was told her best option to prolong her life is palliative chemotherapy, which is chemotherapy given in the non-curative setting to optimize symptom control, improve quality of life and, hopefully, to improve survival.
“This has all happened from a tiny tumor in my bowel. It caused all of this,” Amie told the Independent. “Now there are too many (tumors) to operate (on). I just wanted to curl into a ball. It feels like I’m living in a nightmare and I want to wake up.”
Amie’s family is again trying to raise money, this time so she can go through with palliative chemotherapy.
“Having palliative chemotherapy would mean the world to me. I used to be desperate for a cure, but now I just want to keep the cancer at bay and to give myself a few more years,” Amie said.
Amie’s Cancer Battle
Amie said she was “fit and healthy” when she felt a “shooting pain” in both shoulders in September 2020. She didn’t think much of it at first, attributing the pain to fatigue from playing with her two children, Harry, 8, and Mia, 6.
But the pain persisted, so she called her general practitioner, who thought the pain could be a blood clot. So, Amie rushed to the hospital just 12 hours later. There, she was given the devastating news that she had stage 4 cancer, and it had spread to her liver.
“When I was diagnosed with stage 4 (bowel cancer), I just went completely blank,” she said. “I was so distraught. It all happened so quickly.”
Shortly after being given her diagnosis, Amie began aggressive chemotherapy to shrink the tumors in her liver — she had six tumors on the left side of her liver and 15 tumors on the right — before undergoing surgery to remove about 60% of the organ, which occurred in April 2021.
“I was terrified, I thought I was going to die,” Amie said of having the operation. “I’m so young and I was fit and healthy, so it was a massive shock.”
Unfortunately, during the five-hour operation, doctors found two more tumors in her liver. The discovery prompted another three months of aggressive chemotherapy in June 2021.
But in November, she was told the treatment wasn’t working. She was given the option to try SIRT, which is used to treat secondary and primary liver tumors that are unable to be removed with surgery.
Since SIRT didn’t work, Amie’s hope now is to raise enough money for palliative chemotherapy so she can have as much more time with her children as possible.
“As long as I can get more time with my children, even just a little more,” she said. “It’s not fair on them. They shouldn’t have seen what they have seen.”
Understanding Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States. It also kills more Americans each year than every other form of cancer except lung cancer.
In the United Kingdom, where Amie lives, bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death, according to Cancer Research UK, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths.
Many symptoms of bowel cancer are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, so make sure to consult with your doctor.
Dr. Paul Oberstein, director of the Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Program at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet a few common symptoms of the disease to look out for:
- Change in bowel movements — sudden changes to the size, consistency or caliber of stool
- Change in stool color — bright red or black stool is a sign that an individual should seek medical attention
- Pain in the abdomen — unusual discomfort or bloating of the stomach. In the case of women, pain isn’t related to the menstrual cycle.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss — rapid drop in weight that isn’t the result of diet or exercise
- Anemia — Individuals who feel a general sense of malaise or faintness, or are constantly tired or weak much more than usual, may want to consult a doctor.