Bowel cancer survivor urges others not to ignore common symptoms

31-year-old Sherie Hagger mistakenly thought she was suffering from inflammatory bowel disease  

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 12 December 2017 11:04
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A 31-year-old woman who was ‘constantly bloated’ has urged others not to ignore the symptoms of bowel cancer that are easy to dismiss.

Sherie Hagger was “in so much pain”, “constantly bloated” and suffered from diarrhea within an hour of eating or drinking. She tried to ease her discomfort with tea and hot water bottles on her stomach, she told News.com.au. Even plain water made her feel sick.

As Hagger was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease aged 15, she put her symptoms down to a flare up of the inflammatory bowel disease and cut out gluten and dairy from her diet, “but nothing worked”.

Hagger struggled for three months before she asked her doctor for a colonoscopy which identified she had bowel cancer. She believes the procedure saved her life.

To treat the disease, Hagger underwent several major surgeries, five weeks of radiotherapy that left her with third degree burns, and six months of weekly chemotherapy.

Two and a half years later, a new tumour was found in Hagger’s bowel. She is now undergoing a second round of treatment, and documenting her journey on her blog Butt Why Sherie?.

She hopes her story will show others that the disease doesn’t only affect those over 50.

“Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. The more we talk, the less there is to be embarrassed about. So don’t be a fool, and test your stool!” she told News.com.au.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include ongoing pain in the lower abdomen; repeatedly finding blood in the stools; and a change in bowel habits where a person empties their bowels more or less often, according to the NHS website.

Those concerned by their symptoms can use a bowel cancer symptom checker on the NHS website, and visit their doctor for advice.

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