Mother-of-two who was told she is 'too young for cancer'  dies

Mother-of-two who was told by doctors she was ‘too young for cancer’ before being diagnosed with the stage 4 disease dies five days after her 42nd birthday

  • Mother-of-two Beth Purvis, from Essex, died five days after her 42nd birthday
  • Announcement on Twitter said she was ‘peaceful’ when she died on Saturday 
  • She campaigned for better cancer diagnosis after being reassured she was fine
  • Campaigner was diagnosed with stage four cancer when she was just 37
  • Felt a tumour after it came out of her rectum on toilet and began chemotherapy   

A mother who campaigned for better diagnosis of bowel cancer after being told she had the stage 4 disease at the age of 37 has died.  

Beth Purvis, from Essex, was misdiagnosed by doctors and told she was ‘too young for cancer’ and ‘had nothing to worry about’ when she began experiencing symptoms in 2016.

The mother-of-two was eventually told she had stage four cancer after taking herself to hospital when she saw ‘a lot of blood’ when she went to the toilet.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, she revealed the cancer spread to her brain and yesterday her family shared the news on social media she had died days after her 42nd birthday. 

The statement, which was shared on her @BowelWarrior Instagram and Twitter pages where she documented her battle with the disease, read: ‘It is with great sadness to let you know that Beth passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning.  

Beth Purvis, from Essex, who campaigned for better diagnosis of cancer after being told she had the stage 4 disease at the age of 37 has died

Beth was misdiagnosed by doctors and told she was ‘too young’ for cancer’ and had nothing to worry about when she began experiencing symptoms in 2016

‘She was peaceful, comfortable and surrounded by family. She appreciated all your support, thank you.’ 

Beth is survived by her husband Richard, who she described as ‘the love of her life’, son Joe, 13, and daughter Abi, 11. 

Fellow cancer campaigners were devastated by the news, with Deborah James among those to lead tributes to the mother-of-two.

She commented: ‘I’m gutted to hear this. A fellow Bowel warrior, fearless, and with passion to make a difference – love and prayers to all the family.’

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Beth announced the cancer spread to her brain and yesterday her family shared the news on social media she had died

In a short statement shared on Beth’s Bowel Warrior Instagram and Twitter pages, the family announced she passed away on Saturday

Another person wrote: ‘I’m so sorry to hear this. I never met Beth, but her efforts to raise the profile of bowel cancer and help people understand this terrible disease better helped me immensely through my battle with it. My thoughts are with you all.’

A third commented: ‘RIP lovely Beth. Thanks for all that you’ve done to raise awareness of this horrible and cruel cancer, I know for a fact you’ll be in the VIP room in the sky being looked after by amazing people – lots of love to all the family at this very sad time.’

Beth was diagnosed two-and-a-half years after she first visited the GP with concerns about her increased constipation and blood loss, which they suggested was likely irritable bowel syndrome.

In April 2016, she saw ‘blood’ after going to the toilet and felt something strange, as well as experiencing pain.

Beth, who is survived by her two children Joe, now 13, and Abi, 11, was vocal about campaigning for earlier diagnosis of bowel cancer after her diagnosis  

Speaking in 2019, she said:  ‘I felt something was stuck, when I went to wipe it away there was a lot of blood and I could feel something fleshy.’

She was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow for what she thought was a rectal prolapse – when the rectum slips out of the anus.

Tests showed she had polyps – pre-cancerous growths – in her bowels.

Medics then confirmed she had bowel cancer, telling her she had stage four – the most aggressive type with the lowest odds of survival.

Beth  underwent surgery and rounds of chemotherapy after discovering a tumour in 2016 after going to the bathroom 

HOW DOCTORS SCREEN FOR THE UK’S SECOND BIGGEST CANCER KILLER

Bowel cancer screening is offered to those aged 60 to 74 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – but not anyone younger. 

The main screening method is the faecal occult blood test (FOBT), which looks for hidden blood in stools. It is posted to people in the age range every two years — they then post a sample back.   

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer – around 16,000 people die from it each year. 

If caught early, at stage one, patients have a 97 per cent survival rate for at least five years, but discovered later, at stage four, this falls to just 5 per cent for men and 10 per cent for women.

Former Tory health secretary Lord Andrew Lansley launched a screening programme, called bowelscope, to detect signs of cancer for 55 year olds eight years ago. It was due to be rolled out nationally in 2016 – but fell foul of financial cuts. 

Bowel cancer screening starts at 50 in Scotland. The decision to start 10 years later in the rest of the UK has been the subject of controversy.

BBC news presenter George Alagiah previously said his bowel cancer could have been caught earlier if the screening programme in England was the same as in Scotland. 

He was first diagnosed four years ago, at the age of 58; last Christmas he was told that the cancer had returned and it’s now stage four.

She told The Sun: ‘Unfortunately throughout all this, everybody kept telling me I was too young for it to be cancer. I was told I was ‘far too young for that’.

Weeks later she began gruelling chemotherapy in the hope of tackling the disease and seeing her children grow up.

In October 2018, she had a large section of her rectum removed and was given a stoma, which was later reversed.

And that December, she began a three-month course of chemotherapy after a CT scan showed the cancer had spread to her lungs.

Beth was then taken back into theatre to reverse her ileostomy and get rid of her stoma. She said: ‘I thought it was going to mean treatment was over.

‘But three weeks after my reversal I developed a rectal, vaginal fistula – that’s a hole between the two.

‘Everything was coming out of the wrong place, it was awful. Then I had to have my bum sewn up.’

Following that, she underwent two operations at the Royal Brompton in London on her lungs to tackle the spread of her cancer – after doctors said they could help.

She was told she was cancer-free, but  doctors warned they are ‘sure it will come back’ and she continued having chemotherapy to keep the cancer away.

She said: ‘Before my lung ops I could only look at the short-term, I was told without chemo I wouldn’t last six months.

‘Doctors said they couldn’t do anything, I knew it was going to kill me. I had to just make the most of life as much as possible.

‘Now, things have shifted slightly and doctors can’t say how long I’ve got now.’   

Earlier this month, she said the cancer had spread to her brain, and began trying to raise funds to pay for private treatment. 

On her fundraising page, she wrote: ‘I need to be sure I have done everything to be there for as long as possible for my kids. 

‘They didn’t ask to be brought into this world, I chose to bring them into this world and I owe it to them to do my best for them and be there for them as much as possible.’ 

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum is one of the most deadly cancers.

The mother-of-two is survived by her husband Richard, who she said was ‘the love of her life’ (pictured)

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.

Patients have just a seven per cent chance of surviving five years if they are diagnosed with stage four. In comparison, the odds are 97 per cent for those with stage one.

Symptoms include bleeding from the bottom, blood in stools, a change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

On her fundraising page, Beth said she ‘needed to be sure she had done everything she could to be alive for her children’ 

Earlier this month, she said the cancer had spread to her brain, and began trying to raise funds to pay for private treatment

THE SYMPTOMS OF BOWEL CANCER, WHICH DEVELOPS FROM POLYPS IN THE COLON AND RECTUM

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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