A mum from Gloucestershire who was diagnosed with bowel cancer just two months after giving birth to her son has shared her story in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis.
Joanne Sills, from Cheltenham, says she often felt very ill during her pregnancy and that deep down she knew "something wasn't right".
Just two months after giving birth to her son Oliver, doctors discovered she had bowel cancer at the age of 42.
"I was in agony at times, but I was told once I had given birth I would feel better," Joanne said. "When I had Oliver, he was taken into intensive care for two weeks as he was born early.
"I felt so alone and still in pain. I was on my own all day in the hospital and I couldn’t cuddle my newborn son or see my young daughter who was aged two at the time."
Joanne said she repeatedly went to see GPs about being tired but believes she was not taken seriously because of her recent pregnancy.
She even claims she was told she was "too young" to have cancer.
She went to see a different GP who referred her for a colonoscopy. But the next day, she lost a lot of blood and so called the NHS helpline 111.
"They sent an ambulance for me and so I was taken to hospital and it was then a consultant told me that I was suffering from haemorrhoids and it wasn’t anything serious," she continued."Thankfully one of the doctors said he would give me a final scan and it was then that he saw the tumour. It was horrendous."
Having given up her job with Lloyds after 16 years of service, she is now working again for a different company and life is looking brighter.
"Two years after my diagnosis, I was asked by my GP if I would share my story to allow eight medical students to hear about my cancer journey," Joanne said."It was very emotional as I told it from beginning to end and what I wanted to get across is that cancer can happen to anyone."
Since her diagnosis, the mum-of-three has volunteered with Cancer Research UK and is keen to raise awareness of early diagnosis.
"We all know our own bodies and so don’t be put off. Get yourself checked out as early diagnosis is so important," Joanne explained. She will now be taking part in the Gloucester Race For Life event with her daughter Charlotte, 24, cheered on by her husband Ben, daughter Sophia, six, and Oliver, now four.