There is never a good time to receive a cancer diagnosis, but certainly while giving birth to your child is particularly bad. This mother from the UK received a terminal cancer diagnosis while delivering her third child via c-section. Now, she is spreading the word about why our health care systems need to be better.
Mom Received Terminal Cancer Diagnosis While Delivering Her Baby
In June 2020, Lois Walker, already a mom of two, began noticing some strange things happening in her body. Her bathroom habits were odd and she was experiencing some swelling around her diaphragm. Already a survivor of skin cancer, she thought perhaps she should call her doctor to have it checked out. (1)
Rather than concern and tests, the doctors told her that she likely just had irritable bowel syndrome. Lois continued to call but was constantly dismissed. She even visited the hospital and they didn’t take her concerns seriously.
As her symptoms worsened, she continuously called her GP. They still didn’t take her concern seriously, and rather, offered her drugs for hypochondria. Eventually, they told her she had medical anxiety and put her on some anti-anxiety medications.
“I was going to the doctors, but I couldn’t tell them anything new because it was the same symptoms always, so they treated me with antacids,” Lois explained. “I already suffered from skin cancer, so I said to my doctor, ‘You don’t think I could have cancer?'” And he said, “Oh no, it’s just you getting old and bodies don’t work as well.”
A Painful Pregnancy
In December 2020, Lois found out she was pregnant with her and her partner Dale’s third child. The joy of the pregnancy, however, was overshadowed by the pain that was continuing to get worse. Shortly after her 14-week gender reveal scan she was in so much pain she could barely walk or eat. The longer the pregnancy went on, the worse it got.
“The doctor said that I weighed the same as I did 12 months ago, and by this time, I was nine months pregnant – and that didn’t seem to ring any alarm bells.” she recalled.
The pain became so bad that she told her doctors that she would kill herself if they didn’t take her seriously. They then admitted her to the hospital, but still only put her on morphine for the pain and brought in the mental health team. Still, they did no tests to actually investigate Lois’ concerns. Finally, after she threatened more, the doctors conducted a more thorough probe and found a mass behind her womb. Because of that, they decided to deliver her baby the next day via cesarean section.
A Beautiful Gift Along With Terrible News
The next day she went into surgery to deliver her child. As the doctor opened her up to deliver the baby, he was surprised at what he saw in her abdomen. He said to her that he thought she’d said she’d never had any abdominal surgeries, which she confirmed was correct. Next, the doctor invited some other physicians to come have a look, which is when Lois knew something was terribly wrong.
“They just said, basically, that my abdomen was so diseased that they needed to send off some biopsies and I’d have to wait. But I knew anyway,” Lois remembered. “The doctor actually grabbed my hand and he cried and he actually said that he’d let me down.”
Soon after Lois was diagnosed with stage four cancer. It was so bad that her liver had fused to her diaphragm, her bladder to the back of her womb, and her ovaries had fused, as well. All of these had to be cut back. They then told her that the cancer was also in her bowels, stomach, and liver. They did several rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments, but soon after came to the conclusion that her cancer is untreatable. Now, the mom of three, is faced with trying to figure out how she is going to leave three young children, including a newborn, behind.
“It’s been really, really hard. I didn’t want to get attached to him, but he is my ray of sunshine. My kids are my purpose. I want to concentrate on making memories. If love could save me, I would never die,” she told the BBC. “If there is just one medic who reads this and thinks ‘we need to do better,’ that’s all I want. I would not want anybody to go through what I’m going through.” (2)
Medical gaslighting is when doctors dismiss a patient’s symptoms, deny them tests and treatments, and then ultimately misdiagnose them. Women are more often victims of this. There are countless stories of women being told that their symptoms aren’t of concern, only to find out later that they have cancer and other terrible diseases.
“(Women are) not being believed, and that’s causing significant delays in care, misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, ineffective treatment, and ineffective triaging,” said Doctor Garima Sharma.
We can only hope that as more women speak out about the mistreatment by the medical system that this situation will improve. If you, man or woman, are experiencing symptoms that your doctor is refusing to acknowledge or look into, keep trying. Get other opinions. Don’t stop fighting until you get the tests that you need. It could be a matter of life and death.
Keep Reading: Text Me When You Get Home: Powerful Post Is Inspiring Women To Share Their Experiences
- “Mum told she has terminal cancer by crying doctor while delivering son via C-section.” Mirror. Douglas Whitbread and Liam Buckler. June 1, 2022.
- “Barnsley: Lois Walker diagnosed with cancer during Caesarean birth” BBC. May 30, 2022
- “A mom said her severe pain was dismissed as anxiety for a year. Then, while undergoing a c-section, she learned she had terminal cancer.” Insider. Anna Medaris. June 3, 2022.