I was itchy down there and couldn't go for a number two for DAYS and blamed it on eggs – don't make my mistake | The Sun

A SUPER-fit female cop thought she was 'bunged up' after switching to a high-protein diet.

But she was horrified when her constipation turned out to be bowel cancer.

Stacey Rigby noticed she hadn't had a bowel movement for four days and believed chomping down on eggs every morning as part of a new diet and exercise regime was the cause.

High protein diets can leave many people feeling constipated if they're not having enough fibre.

When she was finally able to 'go' she noticed a pale pink stain on the toilet roll after wiping and, thinking it was due to straining on loo, thought no more of it.

Stacey's concerned wife Jamie Middleton urged her to visit the GP if it happened again and this – coupled with Dame Deborah James' widely-publicised cancer battle – encouraged her to book an appointment.

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The 41-year-old's doctor performed an examination, asked her to give stool samples for further investigation and booked her in for a colonoscopy.

Stacey was stunned to be told doctors had discovered a 4cm grade 2 cancerous tumour that they estimated she'd been living with for two years.

Days after the shock diagnosis she underwent a gruelling five-hour op to remove the mass, along with 17cm of bowel.

A week on from her surgery, Stacey now faces an anxious wait to see if the cancer has spread into her lymph nodes and if she needs chemotherapy.

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The police officer is sharing her ordeal in order to encourage people to check their poo and get anything unusual investigated by a doctor.

Stacey, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, said: "We recently joined a new gym and I changed my diet.

"I was about a month into the diet change and I was having omelettes every day for breakfast.

"I thought 'I've not been to the toilet for a few days, have I bunged myself up with eggs?'.

"Then I thought I must have strained myself so I ignored it.

"When I told Jamie she said 'well if it doesn't go you'll have to go to the doctors'.

"As soon as I saw it again I thought 'I'm going to have to go', just for peace of mind.

"I was embarrassed to go to the doctor because I knew they'd want to do an examination."

Stacey said being told by the consultant that she had a tumour was 'devastating'.

"You're questioning everything and you think 'God I'm only 41' and you have all these thoughts like 'am I going to die? Has it spread? How long have I had it?'," she recalled.

Stacey, who's married to 36-year-old fellow police officer Jamie, first noticed a change in bowel habits and pink stains on her loo roll in early August and after it happened a few times went to her GP.

Stacey said: "I've never had anything wrong with me in my life.

"When I went to the doctor he asked if I wanted a chaperone. I said 'no I don't, I need as few people in this room as possible. I just want to get it over and done with'.

"He did the examination and to be fair it was over in seconds. He said he couldn't feel anything but to be on the safe side gave me three stool tests to do.

"I was told it had come up as a high reading [of blood] that can indicate bowel cancer but that it could be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's.

"I had a colonoscopy and they found a 3-4 cm tumour. The consultant said 'even though I can't  say 100%, I know this is cancer'."

In addition to bowel habit changes, Stacey experienced other symptoms including extreme tiredness, something she put down to working long hours.

She also had an itchy bum, which she assumed was irritation caused by gym clothing.

Stacey said: "I had been tired for months but I thought it was from working long hours, but I don't feel that tired now even recovering from my operation.

"My other symptom was a very itchy bum. A lot of the time it happened when I'd been exercising or been to the gym so I thought 'I must have got hot and sweaty in my leggings'.

"It never made me think something was wrong, I just thought something was irritating me."

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is cancer that’s found anywhere in the large bowel, which includes the colon and rectum.

It's one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, according to the NHS.

Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  1. changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
  2. needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  3. blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  4. bleeding from your bottom
  5. often feeling like you need to poo, even if you've just been to the toilet
  6. tummy pain
  7. bloating
  8. losing weight without trying
  9. feeling very tired for no reason

You should see a GP if you have any of these symptoms for three weeks or more.

Bowel cancer screening is available to everyone aged 60 to 74.

Since April 2021, the programme has also been gradually expanding to offer checks to people aged 50 to 59.

After a biopsy confirmed it was cancer, Stacey underwent surgery at The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on September 26th.

She's now waiting to see if the cancer has spread and if she needs further treatment.

Stacey said: "There was no history in the family. They did gene testing and it came back negative, I was just unlucky.

"Walking down to theatre for surgery I said to the porter and anaesthetist 'I feel like I'm on death row'.

"I remember thinking 'am I going to wake up am I not?' I'm sure everyone thinks the same."

Now Stacey is sharing her diagnosis to encourage people to get anything unusual checked out.

Stacey said: "People were saying 'you're not the age to get bowel cancer, you're only 41' but younger people are getting cancer and it can happen to anyone.

"Because it's your bum, we get embarrassed about it but it's just a part of your anatomy.  

"From going to the doctors to going in for my operation I only saw blood twice so I could have very easily ignored my symptoms and if I'd ignored it God knows where I'd have been.

"My advice would be to just listen to your body and don't be embarrassed to see a professional and get something checked out.

"I probably wouldn't have gone to the doctors if Deborah James hadn't passed away because she was a similar age to me.

"All the campaigning she did and raising that awareness – it made me think 'it happened to her, I need to go and get checked out'.

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"It's a very curable disease if it's found early."

Nearly one million more bowel cancer tests are set to be dished out on the NHS to people in London, in a win for The Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign, which was spearheaded by Dame Debs.

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