- A woman was diagnosed with cancer, which she thought was muscle pain from carrying her baby.
- Symptoms of colon cancer include stomach pain, blood in the stool, and changes in bowel habits.
- More and more young people are developing colorectal cancer.
Leeanne Davies-Grassnick was on her first holiday in Greece with her four-month-old son and wife when she started experiencing severe pain under her ribs.
The 38-year-old from Germany was struggling to walk for more than 10 minutes because of the pain but thought she injured a muscle carrying her son Caspar, she told Bowel Cancer UK.
Three days after landing back home in London, the pain under her rib got worse, so she went to the emergency room. After four days of testing, Davies-Grassnick was diagnosed with colon cancer — a type of colon cancer, also known as colon cancer — which had spread to her liver.
“I just kept saying ‘my baby, my poor baby,'” she said.
More and more young people are developing colorectal cancer
Davies-Grassnick told Insider she’s sharing her story to raise awareness about cancer, particularly colon cancer, citing the growing number of diagnoses among young people.
In its 2023 colorectal cancer statistics report, the American Cancer Society said that one in five new cases of colon and rectal cancer occurs in young people in their early 50s or younger.
The ACS said many colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented with screening, but this is low in young people.
It also says that half of colorectal cancer cases are due to external factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking and an unhealthy diet.
Symptoms of colon cancer include: changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the anus, blood in the stool and stomach pain.
Davies-Grassnick said her liver looked like a Dalmatian
Davies-Grassnick told Insider that her liver looked like a Dalmatian when she was diagnosed because of the tumors. One was six inches wide.
She said the tumors in her liver were so large that they stretched the liver capsule and caused pain under her rib.
She began chemotherapy on May 20, 2022, which by August shrank the tumor and stopped the cancer from spreading. But the surgeons couldn’t remove one of the tumors in her liver because of its location.
She got a second opinion from another surgeon who said he could remove any tumors in her liver.
Though excited, she said she also felt petrified by the surgery, particularly because she had to take a four-week break from chemotherapy to prepare and her cancer was aggressive.
“We returned to Germany and I saw my family and had a normal Christmas. Baby Caspar, our son, turned one year old,” she said.
Three days before Davies-Grassnick’s surgery, the surgeon looked at her CT scans and decided he couldn’t remove the awkwardly positioned tumor.
The surgery was canceled and she was back on chemotherapy the following week.
“The plan now is to continue the chemotherapy as long as it works,” she said, “and hope that the science will really evolve as we move on.”
Davies-Grassnick said being diagnosed with cancer was a lonely experience and sharing her experience on her Instagram helped her digest it.
“I hope it also helps someone else reading it, watching it, going through something similar, or having a loved one going through it,” she said.