Hannah Humphrey, 26, Shotley shares her story...
Clutching my stomach, I groaned. The pain was back again.
It was December 2015 and, for weeks, I’d had terrible indigestion after meals. Tablets would help the pain at first, but it’d come back.
I thought it was something I was eating that disagreed with me. But the agony soon spread to my shoulder, and I started feeling sick all the time.
‘You need to see a doctor,’ my fiance Matt, 27, insisted.
‘I’m going to refer you for an ultrasound,’ said the doctor at my appointment.
Three days later, I went to Ipswich Hospital for a scan and finally got a diagnosis.
I had gallstones.
Normally, they’re harmless – tiny stones made of cholesterol were blocking my bile duct, and causing the awful pain.
‘We don’t know why they form, but they can be common following weight loss,’ explained the consultant.
‘I have been dieting recently,’ I said. I’d lost 5st.
I was told that gallstones were easily treatable with surgery, so I was booked in to have my gall bladder taken out in January 2016.
The doctors said that eating high-fat foods would make the pain much worse.
So, that Christmas – my first with Matt and his family – I couldn’t eat the traditional dinner. Instead, I had to settle for plain vegetables and rice.
Waiting for the surgery, I lived on toast, veg, plain rice and pasta.
I was still in pain, and relied on a heat pad to soothe my aches.
On 21 January, I returned to Ipswich Hospital for my surgery.
My gall bladder was removed, and an endoscopy found nothing amiss, so I went home next day.
Three weeks later, the surgeon asked me to come back.
‘I wonder what that’s about?’ I said to my mum.
I went to the appointment with my parents. The doctor said my gall bladder had been sent for analysis, and the results had come back with some unexpected news.
‘You’ve been lucky,’ he said, ‘there was a neuroendocrine tumour inside your gall bladder.’
I was speechless.
He said it was a rare and cancerous tumour that would’ve killed me if it’d grown.
I burst into tears.
The 2mm tumour hadn’t been given the chance to spread to any other areas of my body, so I didn’t need any chemotherapy.
Still, being told that you had cancer is overwhelming.
Matt and I were in tears, when I broke the news to him. He’d lost a friend to cancer, and couldn’t bear the thought of losing me, too.
‘I’m OK,’ I soothed, ‘I’m all clear!’
I’m almost grateful for those painful gallstones. If it wasn’t for them my tumour might not have been picked up.
If you feel that something’s wrong, get it checked. You never know what’s going on inside.