I was diagnosed with terminal cancer during childbirth – after being labeled a hypochondriac
A new mum claims to have discovered she had terminal cancer during a cesarean delivery – when doctors found tumors in her ovaries, lymph nodes and abdominal lining.
Lois Walker, 37, alleges her shocking diagnosis came after experts called her persistent symptoms “anxiety”, branding her a “hypochondriac”.
The new mum from the UK said she had suffered stomach pain for more than 12 months – but it took her son Ray being born by caesarean section in 2021 to be correctly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
The mother-of-three said she made 20 calls to her doctor during the pandemic lockdown, as well as repeated trips to the ER, to be prescribed anxiety medication and warned to avoid products dairy.
After her doctors finally discovered malignant tumors, she received six rounds of chemotherapy and two operations. However, they now say there is no way to stop the disease from killing her.
“It’s been absolutely diabolical,” a distressed Walker told the South West News Service. “They call themselves medical professionals, and they’re supposed to give us care, but that’s negligence.”
Walker’s symptoms began in June 2020, with unusual bathroom habits and abdominal swelling, but she was first told she might have irritable bowel syndrome after visiting the Dove Valley Practice and Barnsley Hospital in the UK.
When she called her GP because of her worsening symptoms, she was only offered medication to calm her hypochondria.
“I was going to the doctors, but I couldn’t tell them anything new because it was still the same symptoms, so they treated me with antacids,” she said. “Then I was told it could be health anxiety, so they put me on citalopram.” Citalopram is a medication used to treat depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But Walker had suffered from skin cancer in the past, asking her doctor, “You don’t think I might have cancer? Still, he said she was “getting older” and her body “didn’t work as well”.
“I just feel like it could have been caught earlier, so I wouldn’t have this late diagnosis – and I’m leaving three kids behind,” she said. “If the NHS doesn’t recognize that things need to change, then I’m sorry to everyone and anyone.”
In December 2020, she discovers that she is pregnant. Fourteen weeks later she was in horrific pain after learning her son’s gender, saying she couldn’t walk or eat, with the pain becoming more “excruciating” as the pregnancy progressed.
“The doctor said I was the same weight I was 12 months ago, and at that time I was nine months pregnant – and that didn’t seem to raise alarm bells,” she said. affirmed.
When the pain finally became unbearable, she told the doctors she would kill herself if they didn’t take her seriously. She was hospitalized for pain management and given morphine, but that’s where the treatment stopped.
“Then the straw that broke the camel’s back was when they had to involve the mental health team, because I said it got to the point where I would have to end both of our lives, and I’m ashamed to say it,” she said.
After months of pushing for further investigation into her symptoms, her doctor discovered a mass behind her stomach, prompting them to deliver her child the next day – when they discovered the cancer.
In September 2021, she gave birth to her third child while simultaneously learning that she was terminally ill.
“When they opened up to me, he said, ‘I thought you said you didn’t have abdominal surgery? and I said no,” she recalls. “That’s when I knew something had been found, because they called a few doctors.”
“They just said, basically, that my abdomen was so sick that they needed to send biopsies, and that I had to wait. But I knew it anyway,” she continued. “The doctor actually grabbed my hand and he cried, and he actually said he’d let me down.”
However, a Dove Valley Practice spokesperson told SWNS: ‘We are sorry to hear of Ms Walker’s concerns about her care and that she does not feel heard. We conducted a review of Ms Walker’s care and recommendations for testing and shared those results with her at that time.
A representative from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust also told the news agency that they were “sorry to hear that Ms Walker is concerned about her care”.
The rep continued: “We urge any patient with concerns about the care they have received to get in touch with our Patient Advice and Complaints team who are investigating patient concerns to ensure action is taken. taken in a timely and appropriate manner.”
But the apology and chemotherapy treatment did little for Walker, whose cancer still spread and became terminal.
“My liver had fused with my diaphragm, so it had to be reduced. My bladder had fused to the back of my stomach, so it had to be reduced, and all my ovaries had fused,” she said. “Then I got the devastating news that it’s also on my intestines, my stomach and my liver. Obviously that’s never good – those are my main organs that I need.
Due to her illness, her family set up an online fundraiser to benefit Cancer Research UK which received over $10,000 in donations, well beyond their original goal.
The page, created by her sister, notes that Walker has been “failed enormously by the NHS”, while calling the newborn a “miracle”.
“We plan to have it for as long as possible,” reads the fundraiser description at the end of its story.
Although the fundraiser receives donations for cancer research, no amount of love or money is likely to save Walker. Now that she can focus on fighting the disease, she just tries to live as best she can.
“It’s pretty much a comfortable life for as long as I have left, and that’s where we are at the minute,” she said.