I was told I had IBS but now I won't see my daughter's next birthday

A YOUNG mum who was told her symptoms were due to IBS has now been warned she will not see her daughter’s next birthday.

Estelle Wignall, 27, who is mum to Brooke, 17 months, started experiencing tiredness and bloating five years ago.

Doctors at first insisted she had irritable bowel syndrom (IBS),which may cause bloating as well as stomach pains, diarrhoea, constipation and other tummy problems.

But Estelle's symptoms became so bad that she was rushed to hospital – and then sent home again with medication. 

Estelle, from Wigan, said: “I picked up a leaflet in hospital about ovarian cancer and I immediately diagnosed myself. 

“But everyone told me not to be so stupid because I was only 22 years old.

“People said I was being a hypochondriac. Nobody took me seriously – but I just knew. It was an instinct.”

Estelle was sadly correct. She now has stage four ovarian cancer which has spread round her body.

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed in almost 7,500 women every year, with a sharp increase in risk from around the age of 40.

Survival from the disease has improved greatly in the past 40 years. But it still takes the lives of some 4,200 women every year, with 35 per cent of patients living for at least 10 years past diagnosis.

Doctors have told her Estelle she is terminally ill and she has been offered palliative care.

Estelle, however, is not ready to give up her fight, and has launched a fundraising campaign to seek treatment overseas.

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She says: “I feel as though I have been written off, but I am not ready to throw in the towel yet.

“I’ve bounced back before, and I am determined to do it again. 

“I want to celebrate my little girl’s second birthday, I want to see her start school, I want to mark as many milestones as I can.”

After Estelle saw the leaflet in hospital, she pushed for tests and in February 2017, she finally got a grade one ovarian cancer diagnosis. 

She had a tumour removed, along with her right ovary and Fallopian tube.

After making a full recovery, she put the cancer behind her, working as a receptionist and marrying her soulmate Mike, 26, in June 2019 in Texas.

The couple had their first child, Brooke, in May 2020.

Estelle said: “I had only one ovary, and so to conceive so quickly felt like a miracle. 

“I didn’t have my regular checks because I was pregnant, and during the birth the midwife actually noticed nodules on my cervix and I was referred for more tests, which came back clear. 

“We adored Brooke and the future looked fantastic.

“I was actually planning a hysterectomy so that there was no chance the cancer could return.”

But before her op, Estelle started to feel unwell, suffering from exhaustion and a lack of appetite.

She said: “I had started the 12 week diet challenge, to get rid of my baby weight. I just needed to lose a stone, that was all.

“But I started to feel very tired and I had no appetite. I thought it was all due to the diet – but it got worse and I began to think the cancer might be back.”

In November 2020, Estelle was sent for urgent scans and was diagnosed with stage four cancer, which had spread to her liver and lungs.

She said: “I was devastated. The first time I had cancer, I coped well.

“But this time, because of Brooke, I was heartbroken. She was just six months old and it felt so cruel. 

“I had only just started being a mum, and I didn’t want it to be taken away.”

Estelle was initially told her life expectancy was only two or three years but her outlook improved after treatment and a raft of alternative therapies.

She said: “There have been points when I felt I could not go on. I considered euthanasia. 

“But I kept going, and I got my spirits up again.”

A recent scan showed the cancer has spread once again to the bowel and Estelle is now being warned that her time is fast running out.

She said: “I’ve been on the brink before and I have bounced back and I am determined to do it again. 

“I can’t give up, I have too much to live for, and I am determined to look for treatment abroad.

“I hope also that my story can help other women, it is so important, no matter how young you are, to follow your instincts and to insist on answers.

“Don’t be fobbed off – it could cost you your life.”

You can donate to Estelle's fundraising on GoFundMe.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

Over 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year.

This makes ovarian cancer the 5th most common cancer in women, after breast, lung, bowel and womb cancer.

More than eight out of 10 ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 50.

A postcode lottery means a fifth of patients are found to have the disease in the advanced stages, Target Ovarian Cancer says, meaning one in five women are too sick to treat.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common and also most deadly cancers found in women.

Around 90 per cent of women survive their cancer if it’s caught at the earliest stage, but that figure drops dramatically with delay.

At stage 2, only 40 out of 100 will survive, and that drops to just 5 per cent by the most severe stage.

The warning signs

  1. Bloating
  2. Pain in your belly or pelvic area
  3. Feeling full quickly when eating
  4. Needing to pee more often
  5. Back pain
  6. Change in poo habits
  7. Unexplained weight loss

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