A 26-year-old woman was diagnosed with stage four intestinal cancer, six months after being incorrectly diagnosed with food poisoning.

Jessica Thompson, a sales associate from Auckland, New Zealand, had severe abdominal cramps, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea, for six continuous months before her recent diagnosis. She claimed the doctors dismissed her symptoms as a mere stomach upset, New Zealand Herald reported.

Thompson, who has no family history of bowel cancer, was dismayed by the diagnosis in early March 2022. The rare, life-threatening disease is often found in individuals over the age of 65.

The woman had similar episodes of what she assumed to be food poisoning or gluten intolerance, in December and January.

“Both times I was sent home from the hospital with some medication and without any answers. Something just didn’t feel right," Thompson said.

The symptoms, initially brushed off as gastroenteritis, were found to be caused by a malignant growth that had formed in her large intestine, obstructing the complete right side and causing excruciating discomfort, News.com.au reported.

A colonoscopy detected a two-centimeter tumor in Thompson's colon, which alerted the doctors. They also found 20 smaller normal growths in her intestine.

“I vividly remember hearing the C-word for the first time,” Thompson told the Herald, “My heart sank and I just couldn’t wrap my head around how this was happening to me.”

Thompson posted updates about her diagnosis on social media and encouraged others to follow their gut and keep looking for answers if they find themselves on dubious grounds about their health. The young woman also shared that she is celebrating every step of her treatment.

The spread of cancer to two of her lymph nodes made chemotherapy inevitable, as per the Otago Daily Times.

The side effects of the treatment cause cramping in Thompson's feet and fingertips, limiting the mobility of her hands. Thompson says she also feels like there's a lump in her throat which makes it hard for her to eat or drink anything cold.

In New Zealand, bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. Over 1,200 people die of cancer every year.

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