A 26-year-old woman was shocked to learn she had stage four bowel cancer after doctors allegedly dismissed her symptoms as "food poisoning."
Six months leading up to her diagnosis, New Zealand woman Jessica Thompson was experiencing excruciating stomach cramps, bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea "at least four days of the month", but she was told it was nothing more than an upset stomach, she claims.
Ms Thompson, who has been sharing updates online, is now urging others to "trust your gut" and to "keep pushing" for answers if they know something's off.
The Auckland woman explained she was experiencing symptoms regularly, and one night her symptoms were so severe that she rushed to the emergency department in "excruciating" pain.
But she received the same response as the previous doctor, "it must be food poisoning," she claimed, and she left "without any answers."
Ms Thompson, who shares updates on TikTok and Instagram, said months went by before she found out she had cancer, and by this point she was having "regular episodes".
"Something was off, I knew having regular episodes like this couldn’t be normal," she said, news.com.au reported.
"But I never imagined it could be as serious as what it was."
Turning point: 'I felt overwhelmed and terrified'
In March 2022, a blood test revealed her haemoglobin level was low resulting in four blood transfusions.
Next, she had a CAT scan and a colonoscopy which revealed a tumour in her bowel.
The following week the biopsy results confirmed the tumour was cancerous. Ms Thompson was booked in for surgery to remove half her colon, but it was then they discovered something more.
"The C-word is so scary; I felt overwhelmed and terrified, it was a lot to process," she told Femail.
"Our family has no history of it, or of any stomach issues. It just came out of nowhere. I was in a state of shock and disbelief," she added, according to news.com.au.
It was during surgery when doctors also discovered a small lump in fat tissue at the front of her colon, which was also cancerous, according to reports.
She was reportedly told the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, making it stage four, and a rare genetic mutation that was to blame.
Woman shares her journey for others: 'Trust your gut'
Thankfully, surgeons were able to remove the cancer from her body, but now, the 26-year-old is undergoing chemotherapy and is sharing her journey online.
"This is not a journey I ever imagined I’d be on but I am so grateful to have the opportunity to fight for my life, many don’t get a choice," she wrote on Instagram.
Videos on TikTok show the Auckland woman in a hospital robe during her visits. She also showcased a new scar on her stomach following her life-changing surgery.
The young woman said she's sharing her story because she "wants to raise awareness" on her platform.
"People don’t realise that you can get bowel cancer in your 20s," she said, adding "it’s so important to trust your gut."
In a video shared last month, Ms Thompson can be seen dancing in her hospital room.
"Me and the nurse when the bloods come back all clear," she wrote, implying she was now officially cancer free.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.