Jessica Thompson, Auckland, New Zealand, (pictured) was shocked and terrified after doctors found a 2cm tumour in her colon
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At just 26, Jessica Thompson is fighting a ‘rare’ form of bowel cancer usually only found in people over 65 after doctors found a 2cm tumour blocking half of her right colon earlier this year.

The sales associate from Auckland, New Zealand was diagnosed in March despite no known family history of cancer after suffering ‘stomach issues’ she’d put down to gluten sensitivity.

Once she started experiencing awful stomach cramps, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting in January, Jessica went to the emergency room multiple times but doctors assumed she had gastro. 

However, the symptoms were due to a genetically mutated (BRAF), cancerous mass that had grown in her large intestine, blocking the entire right side and causing extreme pain. 

Jessica Thompson, Auckland, New Zealand, (pictured) was shocked and terrified after doctors found a 2cm tumour in her colon

Jessica Thompson, Auckland, New Zealand, (pictured) was shocked and terrified after doctors found a 2cm tumour in her colon 

It wasn't until after surgery in March 2022 that doctors confirmed the tumours was cancerous. In January started experiencing awful stomach cramps, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting

It wasn’t until after surgery in March 2022 that doctors confirmed the tumours was cancerous. In January started experiencing awful stomach cramps, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting 

‘The stomach cramps were excruciatingly painful to a point where I thought I was going to pass out, so I called the ambulance because I live alone,’ she told FEMAIL. 

After arriving at the hospital, doctors completed a blood test and immediately noticed Jessica’s red blood cell lever was incredibly low resulting in the need for four blood transfusions. 

‘I instantly knew something wasn’t not right but I didn’t know what it meant – now I know it’s a sign of internal bleeding,’ she said. 

Jessica also had an ultrasound which came back clear as it doesn’t pick up bowel issues, followed by a CT scan where doctors noticed ‘something’ but weren’t sure what it was. 

'The stomach cramps were excruciatingly painful to a point where I thought I was going to pass out, so I called the ambulance because I live alone,' she said

‘The stomach cramps were excruciatingly painful to a point where I thought I was going to pass out, so I called the ambulance because I live alone,’ she said

After arriving at the hospital, doctors completed a blood test and immediately noticed Jessica's red blood cell lever was incredibly low resulting in needing a total of four blood transfusions

After arriving at the hospital, doctors completed a blood test and immediately noticed Jessica’s red blood cell lever was incredibly low resulting in needing a total of four blood transfusions

The following week she was booked in for a colonoscopy – an internal exam that usually doesn’t require anaesthetic to inspect the internal bowel. 

‘I could tell they noticed something by the energy in the room, which was stressful,’ she said.  ‘Later that afternoon it was confirmed I had a tumour in my colon but they couldn’t tell if it was cancerous or not – though the size likely meant it would be. 

‘I asked the doctor what the chances were of it not being cancerous, and he said ‘slim to none’.’  

Doctors also found at least 20 smaller polyps in her intestine. 

The following week the biopsy results confirmed the tumour was cancerous, but couldn’t determine the stage it was at until surgery.  

‘The C-word is so scary; I felt overwhelmed and terrified, it was a lot to process,’ she said. 

'Later that afternoon it was confirmed I had a tumour in my colon but they couldn't tell if it was cancerous or not - though the size likely meant it would be,' she said

From there Jessica was quickly booked in to have surgery the following week

‘Later that afternoon it was confirmed I had a tumour in my colon but they couldn’t tell if it was cancerous or not – though the size likely meant it would be,’ she said. From there Jessica was quickly booked in to have surgery the following week

From there Jessica was booked in to have surgery the following week but went on a weekend trip away to process everything that had happened. 

‘I wanted to relax before my surgery but unfortunately ended up in hospital as the colonoscopy caused inflammation in my bowel and food had become backed up in my stomach,’ she said. 

The food needed to be removed through a nasogastric tube, which Jessica described as one of the ‘worst things’ she’s had to endure. 

The surgery itself was a combination of laparoscopic and open, as doctors had to make a larger insertion due to the huge amount of food stuck in Jessica's intestines

The surgery itself was a combination of laparoscopic and open, as doctors had to make a larger insertion due to the huge amount of food stuck in Jessica’s intestines

The surgery itself was a combination of laparoscopic and open, as doctors had to make a larger insertion due to the huge amount of food stuck in Jessica’s intestines. 

Lucky there were no complications but Jessica said surgeons removed the epidural too early, and so at times she was in a lot of pain. 

Doctors removed the entire cancerous tumour and also found a tiny lump outside the intestine on her fat tissue, so they removed 36 surrounding lymph nodes to test if the cancer had moved – which took two weeks to determine. 

‘It was a long time to wait and I didn’t really know what to think,’ she said.  

Unfortunately when Jessica met with her surgeon he delivered the devastating news that the cancer had spread to two of her lymph nodes, meaning she’d need chemotherapy. 

Doctors removed the entire cancerous tumour and also found a tiny lump outside the intestine on her fat tissue, so they removed 36 surrounding lymph nodes to test if the cancer had moved - which took two weeks to determine

Doctors removed the entire cancerous tumour and also found a tiny lump outside the intestine on her fat tissue, so they removed 36 surrounding lymph nodes to test if the cancer had moved – which took two weeks to determine

The pathology report also confirmed the cancer itself had a ‘mutation’ for an unknown reason, deeming it to be ‘rare’. 

Jessica said this means there’s a mutation in the genetics of the cancer, rather than her own genetics – and it has no growth ‘off switch’. 

‘It grows to a whole other extent and grows at a faster pace compared to a regular cancer,’ she said. 

‘My oncologist told me this only happens within 10 per cent of people with cancer, and it’s usually in melanoma not colon cancer in people over 65.

‘It was a very grim conversation because she said chemotherapy might not be affective because the cancer is aggressive and unpredictable.

‘I had gone from thinking it was going to be fine to thinking this might not work.’ 

The following week she had a PET scan to search for any microscopic cancer cells in the body and started questioning her situation. 

Unfortunately when Jessica met with her surgeon he delivered the devastating news that the cancer had spread to two of her lymph nodes, meaning she'd need chemotherapy. The pathology report also confirmed the cancer itself had a 'mutation' for an unknown reason, deeming it to be 'rare'

Unfortunately when Jessica met with her surgeon he delivered the devastating news that the cancer had spread to two of her lymph nodes, meaning she’d need chemotherapy. The pathology report also confirmed the cancer itself had a ‘mutation’ for an unknown reason, deeming it to be ‘rare’

Doctors are unsure what caused the cancer but believe it’s due to a ‘genetic disposition’ relating to the mutation found. 

During that time she used Dr Google to search for information on the mutation, which doctors advised against, and read nothing but negative research. 

‘I started freaking out and asking how long I had left to live, it was really scary because from what I had read this mutation was really, really bad,’ she said. 

To her surprise, the PET scan came back completely clear which meant the cancer is ‘curable’. 

Prior to starting chemotherapy she had a portacath surgery and is currently in her third round of nine treatments. She won’t need radiotherapy.  

‘I bawled my eyes out during the first round – I’m usually the youngest person there,’ she said. 

Prior to starting chemotherapy she had a portacath surgery and is currently in her third round of nine treatments. She won't need radiotherapy

Prior to starting chemotherapy she had a portacath surgery and is currently in her third round of nine treatments. She won’t need radiotherapy

She detailed some of the side effects, including neuropathy which she described as ‘pins and needles’ in your fingertips and sensitivity to the cold – such as the wind and cool drinks.

‘For me, it can turn into cramps in my hands, which is annoying because then I can’t pick up anything.

She also often feels a lump in her throat, difficulty swallowing water and a general ‘gross’ feeling as if you’ve had a hangover.

After the final round Jessica will need regular scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned.

Symptoms of bowel cancer:

– Change in bowel habits with diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying

– Thin or loose bowel movements

– Blood or mucous in stools

– Abdominal pain, bloating and cramping

– Anal or rectal pain

– Lump in the anus or rectum

– Unexplained weight loss

– Fatigue

– Unexplained anaemia

Source: Cancer Council Australia

‘I feel really grateful; I feel like I’ve been given a fresh perspective on life,’ she said, adding: ‘Walking out of hospital, everything looks brighter.’ 

Jessica has also shared her experience with thousands of others by posting videos on TikTok, which she finds to be ‘therapeutic’.

‘I want other people to know what you’re not alone going through experiences like this,’ she said.

‘Social media can be a highlight reel of amazing things but it can also be ways to connect with others and share your experiences.’

When asked she’d say to others also going through treatment, Jessica said to ‘don’t be hard on yourself when you have bad days’ and to take it one day at a time.

‘Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to rest too,’ she said.

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