A mum-of-two who thought she had Crohn’s disease was given the devastating news that she only had 14 months to live after her stomach pains turned out to be bowel cancer.
Alex Jamieson said was told she had bowel cancer in June 2021, after experiencing discomfort in her abdomen for years.
But doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause of her suffering – initially giving her a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.
It was only when Alex began experiencing severe pain and was rushed for an emergency operation that surgeons discovered the truth.
It was when they went to remove part of her bowel that they found a tumour – but the worst was yet to come.
“It was a huge shock,” Alex, from the Davenport area of Stockport, told the Manchester Evening News. “They took us into a room and I assumed they were going to tell me I could go home as I’d been there a few weeks recovering.
“They told me it was bowel cancer. There’s no family history of bowel cancer so it was a massive shock. And at 37, I never thought it would be that.”
Although the tumour was advanced, surgeons managed to successfully remove the cancer in Alex’s body. However, the primary school head teacher was told she would need to have chemotherapy for six months to ensure no cancer remained.
Five months into the treatment, scans showed the cancer had returned. This time, it had spread to nearby organs and tissues, meaning another surgery was needed.
In March this year, Alex, 39, had another major operation which was successful. Her prognosis was positive and she was told to go and enjoy her life. She would only need to be assessed every six months to ensure the cancer had not come back.
And over the next six months, the family, including Alex’s husband Paul, 41, and two daughters Annabel, aged seven and Imogen, aged five, returned to normal life. Their harrowing experience taught them not to take life for granted, seeing them go on more days out and a dream trip to Mexico.
But in September, Alex was told that her first surveillance scan showed the cancer was back, now in four places in her pelvis. This time, medics do not believe the cancer is curable. Even with chemotherapy treatment, it’s predicted Alex only has 14 months to live.
“I can’t explain how devastating it is,” Alex said as she broke down in tears. “Everyone has a death, haven’t they? You just don’t know when it is. But when you’re told, you automatically go, ‘I have this many birthdays left, this many Christmases,’ you can’t help but think in those time scales.
“I can’t imagine not being here for the girls. I want to be here for as long as I can to see them reach milestones, to be there with them and celebrating with them. My daughter is in year three and I want to see her leave infant school. I want to see her not turn eight, but nine and 10 too. I can’t get my head around the fact I’m not going to be here for them.
“My husband is so upset. We were the best team together, particularly with the children. The idea it’s just going to be him as a single parent is really tough.
“He’s incredibly strong and he’s supported me through so much. I know, ultimately, that it’s him who is left behind and will have to do everything. I don’t want to leave him on his own.”
Although the family are planning to get Alex started on a three-month NHS chemotherapy plan straight away, they are hoping to look at other treatments which may increase Alex’s chance of survival.
They have set up a GoFundMe appeal in the hopes of raising money for alternative targeted treatments available at The Christie and clinical trials.
It’s hoped the cash will also go towards helping the family create incredible memories during the time Alex has left. Any remaining money will help support other families who find themselves in a similar situation as them.
“We’re going to Lapland in December,” Alex added. “We’re just going to try and make every day the best we can and make as many memories as we can.”
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