“I had been suffering from quite a lot of heartburn towards the end of 2021. I got increasingly more uncomfortable and remember saying to my husband Andrew that I felt like something was burning a hole inside me.

“One night, I woke in extreme pain and had to go to A&E. I was given surgery the very same day for what was believed to be a perforated gastric ulcer. Follow up tests after surgery showed though that I actually had stomach cancer’.

“This of course was completely shocking to me and my family. I was given some options and we agreed I would go for a full gastrectomy, which removes the stomach. Surgery was successful and I was given six sessions of follow up chemotherapy.

“Having to tell my children that I had cancer was terribly upsetting and a very difficult experience as a mother but my family were brilliant throughout my whole cancer treatment, as were the many other people who looked after me in hospital at different times.

“Life after my surgery involved a lot of adapting. I have what my grandchildren refer to as a ‘new tummy’ which allows me to still eat and enjoy small meals. I lost a lot of weight after having cancer but I am lucky that Andrew is a very good cook and makes the effort to create appetising food I want to eat. Otherwise, I think I would be making myself toast every day!

“Practically, I have to think ahead when I’m going out or travelling. It is important to be mindful of little things like where the bathrooms are in public places, simply to avoid any difficult situations for myself. I think it’s important for people to realise that there are people like me with medical conditions that mean they need to have easy access to a bathroom – perhaps people don’t think about it because it’s not a very pleasant subject but that’s a reality of life and it should be something we’re all conscious of.

“Going through gastric cancer was a difficult experience but life is slowly returning to what it should be. Being a grandmother and mother gives me a lot to look forward to.

“OG Cancer NI has a lot of resources people with my type of cancer can find helpful as well as meet-ups and events. I have a call from my surgeon and oncologist to check in on me from time to time and get ongoing support from a dietician. I would never have expected that I had gastric cancer.

“I would say if you have something niggling at you or making you uncomfortable, don’t ignore it or suffer with it – it may be nothing but it may be something – either way, it’s always worth making sure.”

Lorraine's Story
"My persistence led to me being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer."
Helen's Story
"When I was diagnosed, we were all numb"
Tom's Story
"It was so distressing and a very anxious time for me"

Early Diagnosis is Key #CatchItEarly

Oesophageal cancer like many other cancers does not discriminate between age or sex and knowing and recognising the signs and symptoms are crucial to early diagnosis.  If you suffer from any of the following symptoms for longer than 3 weeks you should consult your doctor.

  • Persistent Indigestion
  • Difficulty swallowing or food sticking
  • Heartburn acid reflux
  • Hiccupping that wont go away
  • Unexplained weight loss.

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