Mum-of-two diagnosed with terminal cancer aged 39 after doctors told her she had IBS for years

A young mother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after doctors misdiagnosed her with IBS for three years.

Claire Gunn, from Reddish, Stockport, is undergoing chemotherapy after receiving the devastating news.

The mother-of-two had just welcomed her baby daughter to the world when she was told she had bowel cancer aged 38 in 2019.

READ MORE:Waits of more than 12 hours at A&E skyrocket within the year across GM hospitals – before winter even hits

After several rounds of treatment, she ‘beat the cancer’, only to find in January this year the disease had spread.

“Warrior” Claire, who also has a 21-year-old son, had gone to her GP with a raft of symptoms.

After some debate, doctors believed she had irritable bowel syndrome and sent her home with medication.

But in 2019, just a few months after the birth of her beloved daughter, Claire went back to her GP as medication was having little effect, and her problems continued.

“I was misdiagnosed with IBS,” explains Claire.

“The GP told me ‘we can’t work out what’s wrong with you’. They supplied me with a load of different tablets, they probably didn’t help.

“I went to my GP with a really achey leg one day, and the doctor said ‘we’ll have to get you to hospital’.

“The doctors thought it may have been something to do with my appendix.

“Then they realised it had been perforated and burst. The cancer had actually gone through my appendix and my bowel had to be removed.

“I was diagnosed with bowel cancer when my daughter was four months old.”

The mum-of-two had to undergo gruelling rounds of treatment
(Image: Claire Gunn)

Claire, who was just 38 when she was diagnosed with cancer, began chemotherapy and surgery.

In 2020, her outlook appeared to be improving, as tests gave ‘the all clear’.

Tragically, medics later discovered the cancer had spread.

“In January of this year, I was due to have surgery to have my colostomy bag reversed,” she told the Manchester Evening News .

“When I woke up, the bag was still there and I thought, ‘oh no, what’s happened?'”

“The doctors found out the cancer had spread to my gall bladder and liver. I had to have more treatment, chemotherapy again.”

Claire and baby Ava-Mae
(Image: Claire Gunn)

Now, Claire says she is in ‘limbo’ as she waits for medics to decide whether she is a candidate for a radical treatment involving yet more surgery and chemotherapy.

If she qualifies for the operation, she could have five years to live..

But if not, Claire’s prognosis is just one to three years.

Either way, the operation will only prolong her life, as she is currently told the cancer is ‘incurable’.

“I hope I’m a good enough candidate, I’m young and I have two children,” says Claire, hopefully.

“It’s difficult because you’re just left with your thoughts while doctors decide whether or not to do the operation.

“I don’t think I would have got through it all without my daughter and my son. They’re my security blankets.”

Claire during her rounds of chemotherapy
(Image: Claire Gunn)

Claire’s friends are trying to raise money to send the family on the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Paris to ‘make memories’, in case Claire deteriorates further and is does not qualify for more treatment.

The mum, now 40, says it would ‘mean the world’ to her children, little Ava-Mae, born in 2019, and 21-year-old Joshua.

Claire’s friends say her shock cancer diagnosis ‘shattered her heart’ after three years of believing her symptoms were down to IBS.

“Claire was a single parent to her now 21-year-old son and her newborn daughter, who was born quite poorly and had to stay in NICU for a while, so she had that to contend with too,” Claire’s friends have said.

“Still, Claire battled and fought the cancer like the true warrior she is.

“After three months of having chemo, major surgery and various other treatments that made her very poorly, her hair thinning and falling out, she finally got the news in 2020 that she had successfully kicked the cancer’s butt and was all clear.

“Fast forward six months, Claire was in hospital to have her colostomy bag removed, the final farewell to her last four years of hell.

“Sadly, when they opened her up they found more cancer in her gallbladder and liver.

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“Claire has now had the absolutely soul destroying devastating news that she is untreatable with chemo alone and can’t be cured.

“She will still undergo chemo and very soon another major op. These interventions will only prolong Claire’s life.

“We really want to raise the funds to send our best friend on the trip of a lifetime with Josh and Ava-Mae.

Claire really is the most beautiful, kind, generous and loving person to anyone that knows her or meets her. She is the bravest, most courageous woman we know and she would do the exact same thing as this for any of her friends and family.”

“Even my 21-year-old would be excited for Disneyland,” added the grateful mum.

“Just to have that family time, the opportunity to make memories, you never know how long you’ve got – whether it’s cancer or an every day life. I’m not putting anything on hold now, I’ve started going to university, it’s difficult with a two-year-old, but it’s now or never.

“But when you’ve been told you’ve got incurable cancer, you’re living every day thinking ‘is it my last?’

“It would mean the absolute world to us. We wouldn’t be able to get there without this help. I’m absolutely speechless that my friends have done this, and all the messages I’ve been getting from people who are going through the same thing themselves.

“Bowel cancer is something that’s normally associated with much older people, there needs to be more awareness that people my age are suffering too.”

If you would like to donate to the fundraiser for Claire, head to the GoFundMe page.

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