'I thought my symptoms were grief over my mum's death – but it was cancer'

Rosie Hindmarsh had been suffering from what turned out to be cancer symptoms for years without knowing it.

After Rosie’s mum suddenly and unexpectedly died last June, she put how much worse she was starting to feel down to the shock of grief.

The mum of two had abdominal pains, loose bowels, and severe sweats. She had also lost just shy of a stone in less than a week.

Rosie, 31, said: ‘I’ve had symptoms since 2019 and I was passed from pillar to post. Before the [covid] pandemic, it got worse, and I wasn’t doing well.

‘I was extremely fatigued and when I went to the doctor, it was suggested that I was going through perimenopause at 29 years old.

‘Then the pandemic hit and I felt like I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time by going back to the doctors.

‘But then, around 11 months ago, my symptoms started to get worse and I had a sort of heart murmur, which I put down to the stress and anxiety of losing my mum.’

Seven weeks ago, after her symptoms continued to worsen, Rosie went to see a doctor again, and this time she was then sent for a number of tests and procedures, including a full abdominal MRI scan.

The following day, she said she was told she needed her appendix and lower bowel removed because they had grown very thick.

Within two weeks of the operation, Rosie was finally given a correct diagnosis – late-stage neuroendocrine carcinoid tumours (NETs).

NETs can be cancerous or non-cancerous, according to the NHS. They’re rare tumours of the neuroendocrine system, which is where hormones come from.

They usually tend to grow in the bowels or appendix, but can also appear in the stomach, pancreas, lungs, breast, kidney, ovaries or testicles.

Rosie said: ‘I was completely shocked when I found out the diagnosis. I initially had a full abdominal MRI and they thought [my symptoms] were to do with my appendix, so I thought that I had appendicitis or something like that.

‘After I had my appendix taken out, they found out it was actually my bowel and I had a letter to say I needed to go to the colorectal surgery.

‘I had no idea why, so I just went in on my own and then I was told I had a late-stage cancer, without having the support of my husband or family there with me.

‘It’s been really overwhelming and I stress about the fact that it’s a rare tumour.’

Rosie, who lives in Liskeard, Cornwall, needed to have three-quarters of her bowel removed. Now she’s waiting for the biopsy results and needs to see how well she heals from the operation.

Depending on how her body copes, she’ll need to decide whether she wants to have her bowel fully removed and a stoma bag fitted.

‘The operation went well,’ she said, ‘but the healing time is very long and painful.

‘I’m a positive person though, so mental health-wise, I’m doing OK.

‘I have two young children who I need to take care of, so at the moment, I’m just taking each day as it comes.

‘Since I’ve had my tumour removed, the heart murmurs have stopped and my severe sweats have stopped.

‘It’s scary to think that it’s because my body was essentially going into overdrive, and it’s crazy that women are quite easily put into brackets where our symptoms are put down to hormones or the menopause.’

Rosie’s cousin, Cheryl Chapman, has set up a GoFundMe page to help support Rosie’s family while she’s undergoing treatment and unable to work.

Cheryl said: ‘[The diagnosis] has hit hard, and they’ve had their world flipped upside down. As a young family they have bills to pay and [kids] to keep entertained, which is difficult when they are on one wage.

‘So, I am looking to raise some pennies to help them out in any way they need, whether that be helping with bills or treating their gorgeous children to a day out. Please help me to help them.’

Now, Rosie wants to raise more awareness of this type of cancer and encourage people to get checked out if they ever have any symptoms they’re worried about.

Rosie said: ‘The GoFundMe my cousin set up was lovely and it will help with our mortgage and other things. But for me, it’s more about raising awareness.

‘It’s scary how easily these things can be misdiagnosed and people have died from this cancer.

‘I can’t stress enough that you’re never a nuisance when trying to get help because that’s what I thought, and it could have been caught in 2019 and I wouldn’t have had to go through all the symptoms.

‘It’s important to stress that you shouldn’t bypass the small things.

‘Write down your symptoms and get them checked out if you’re concerned because you are never a bother.

‘You know your body better than anyone else and you know what’s right and wrong.’

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