Woman who thought carrying a baby caused rib pain had colon cancer

Leeanne Davies-Grassnick was diagnosed with colon cancer which had spread to her liver.
Photos courtesy of Leeanne Davies-Grassnick

  • A woman was diagnosed with cancer she believed was muscle pain from carrying her baby.
  • Symptoms of bowel cancer include stomach pain, blood in the stool, and changes in bowel habits.
  • More and more young people are contracting colorectal cancer.

Leeanne Davies-Grassnick was in Greece on her first vacation with her four-month-old son and his wife when she started having sharp pains under her ribs.

The 38-year-old German struggled to walk for more than 10 minutes because of the pain, but thought she injured a muscle while carrying her son, Caspar, she told Bowel Cancer UK .

Three days after returning home to London, the pain under her rib got worse, so she went to the emergency room. After four days of testing, Davies-Grassnick was diagnosed with colon cancer – a type of bowel cancer, also called colorectal cancer – which had spread to her liver.

“I kept saying ‘my baby, my poor baby,'” she said.

More and more young people are contracting colorectal cancer

Davies-Grassnick told Insider she was sharing her story to raise awareness about cancer, especially bowel cancer, and referenced the growing number of diagnoses among young people.

In its 2023 Colorectal Cancer Statistical Report, the American Cancer Society said one in five new cases of colon and rectal cancer were in young people, in their early 50s or younger.

The ACS said many colorectal cancer deaths are preventable with screening, but this is low among young people.

He also said that half of colon cancer cases are due to external factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking and poor diet.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include: changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the anus, blood in the stool and stomach pain.

Leeanne Davies-Grassnick thought her pain was caused by carrying her baby.
Image courtesy of Leeanne Davies-Grassnick.

Davies-Grassnick said his liver looked like a Dalmatian

Davies-Grassnick told Insider that when she was diagnosed, her liver looked like a Dalmatian because of the tumors. One was six inches wide.

She said the tumors in her liver were so big that they stretched the capsule of the liver, causing pain under her rib.

She started chemotherapy on May 20, 2022, which shrank the tumor in August and stopped the cancer from spreading. But surgeons were unable to remove one of the tumors from his liver due to its location.

She got a second opinion from another surgeon who said he could remove all tumors from her liver.

Although excited, she said she also felt petrified by the surgery, particularly because she had to take a four-week break from chemotherapy to prepare and her cancer was aggressive.

“We returned to Germany and I was able to see my family and have a normal Christmas. Baby Caspar, our son, turned one,” she said.

Three days before Davies-Grassnick was due for surgery, the surgeon looked at his CT scans and decided he wouldn’t be able to remove the misplaced tumor.

The operation was canceled and she resumed her chemo the following week.

“The plan now is just to keep chemo going for as long as it works,” she said, “and hope the science really develops as we keep going.”

One of the Davies-Grassnicks was 6 inches wide.
Photo courtesy of Leeanne Davies-Grassnick

Davies-Grassnick said being diagnosed with cancer was a lonely experience and sharing her experiences on her Instagram helped her process it.

“I hope this also helps anyone else who reads it, sees it, goes through something similar, or has a loved one going through it,” she said.

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