'Doctors said I had IBS - it turned out to be deadly cancer'

Lynn Fraser, 35, was diagnosed other conditions, only to learn she had stage-four cancer.

Mum diagnosed with stage-four cancer after doctors told her she had irritable bowel syndrome

A mum has been diagnosed with stage-four cancer after doctors originally told her she had irritable bowel syndrome.

Lynn Fraser, 35, recalled the devastating moment medics revealed she had the deadly disease after a scan.

Now undergoing palliative chemotherapy, Lynn hopes to prolong her life for as long as possible to be there for her young sons – Matt, seven, and Jackson, three – and husband David, an oil rig worker.

“I was in total shock,” she said. “You see all the adverts where people are told [they have cancer] and they can’t hear, the room goes silent. It was like that. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would hear those words.”

The Aberdeen mum had suffered stomach pain for two years, experienced strange gurgling in her stomach and was sometimes sick after meals. She was told last Easter she had IBS and to keep a food diary.

Her symptoms worsened and by Christmas pain had spread across her abdomen. She said her stomach was growing “bigger and bigger” every week.

She went to a different doctor, who diagnosed her with pelvic inflammatory disease and prescribed antibiotics, which did not improve her condition.

Lynn with her husband David

One day in January, Lynn could not get out of bed due to crippling pain and was taken to A&E at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Medics carried out a biopsy and a number of tumours were discovered in her stomach and on her ovaries, one measuring as big as 12 centimetres. She was given the devastating news it was stage-four cancer at the end of February.

“It was a horrible wait,” she said. “I’m bad for Googling things so I had already kind of guessed. I think it was because of my age I had went along with IBS, it’s a common diagnosis.

“I didn’t have many of the obvious symptoms like blood in the stools. If I had, I’d have pushed for tests straight away.”

Lynn has been going to the hospital for chemotherapy every two weeks since March. She said she hopes it can help shrink the tumours so she can undergo surgery in the future.

She is also eating a healthier diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables to help her immune system and to keep her energy levels high.

She has chosen not to ask doctors about her prognosis.

 Lynn with her two sons Matt and Jackson

“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.

“I feel okay with the chemo, apart from being tired and having tingly hands. Everything tastes strange. I won’t lose my hair, so I feel relatively lucky there.

“I’ve been quite positive, I just wish it was caught sooner. My reaction has been ‘I’m going to fight it’.”

The heartbreaking news has taken its toll on her friends and family, but they have rallied round to support her.

Her mum comes to her house to help look after her two boys while her husband David is at work.

She said: “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. They’re not old enough to understand.

“It has been tough for my husband. He’s really struggling as his dad and sister were diagnosed with cancer last year too.

“It has been a shock for everyone, especially due to my age. It can really happen to anyone.”

Lynn and David on their wedding day in 2013

She added: “I do think about my children and if they will be okay when I’m gone. That’s the worst part.”

Lynn is trying to remain upbeat and plans to spend time in Aviemore with her family to celebrate her dad’s 70th birthday next month.

She hopes her story will encourage people to get push doctors for more tests if they are worried.

She said: “The sooner it’s diagnosed, the better chance of it being treatable. 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.

“If they did that for me, things could have been different.”

Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) said it could not comment on individual cases.

But a spokesperson added: “We would encourage anyone with concerns about their care to raise these. In this case, this should be raised with their GP practice in the first instance.” 

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