It can happen to anyone. One moment you’re on top of the world, living life to the fullest and building a family of your own, the next, you’re finding out that all of that is about to come tumbling down.
One young, Australian mother had it all. She and her loving husband had two kids and another on the way, but one Christmas Eve was about to show her that her dream life was about to become an absolute nightmare…
One More on the Way
Nicole and her husband had been very blessed. They had two beautiful children, five-year-old Aaylah and budding teenager Alkere, both of whom were healthy, happy little girls. Pretty soon they would be expecting a third child, another girl they were planning to name Alavis.
Months of Illness
In 2015, Nicole, who is from western Australia, had noticed that she’d been feeling off for a long while. Normally full of energy and ready to take on the world, she had been inexplicably tired and had been apparently losing a lot of weight. This was coupled by a number of worrying symptoms which began with some rather intense abdominal pain…
In addition to losing weight, which for a naturally slim woman seemed almost redundant, Nicole was also feeling bloated, constipated, facing abdominal pain, and even began to notice some blood in her stool. Whatever was going on, it wasn’t normal and she decided that she should see a doctor for the worrying symptoms.
Nicole went to see her gastroenterologist to find out what was going on. After a brief examination, they concluded that she had some form of irritable bowel syndrome, a worrying and often painful intestinal disorder, but one they assured her was absolutely treatable. They began a number of therapies to help alleviate the symptoms…
Nicole Yarran was only 32 years old at the time and so she believed what her doctors were saying. She even managed to get another doctor at the GI practice to weigh in. Her opinion was that Nicole was suffering from celiac, a gluten allergy. Still, neither doctor performed any blood tests nor any ultrasounds or scopes to confirm.
Sick and Pregnant
Soon enough, Nicole was pregnant with Alavis. But she was still sick and the IBS treatments and gluten avoidance were doing nothing to stop her weight loss or worrying BMs. When she went in for a routine ultrasound of the baby, however, the doctors discovered something that the GI docs had plainly missed: and it was not good…
The ultrasound of her womb had revealed something terrible in Nicole’s abdomen. The soon to be mother-of-three had eight golf ball-sized tumours on her liver. Whatever cancer had been in her bowel had spread to her liver and by the looks of things, this was not something that was going to be easily rectified.
On Christmas Eve of that year, Nicole and her husband went in for a follow-up scan in order to get the real story on what was happening to her. The diagnosis was as they had feared. Nicole was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer and was to start treatment three days later. They just hoped it wasn’t too late…
Don’t Feed the Tumors
Kathy Narrier, Nicole’s mother, was indignant at the doctors who had misdiagnosed her daughter. “If the doctor had only listened to her symptoms and requested a stool sample or full blood count, at least they would have found it in 2014, because it was the pregnancy that aspirated the cancer, it literally fed the tumours,” she said in an interview.
Hiding It Well
Still, Nicole never let her declining health get the better of her. Throughout the whole ordeal, she remained as stoic as she could. She became angry at the sight of tears and hid much of the diagnosis from loved ones. It wasn’t until she began to develop fluid in her abdomen that she finally came to terms with the fact that she was on borrowed time…
Perhaps the saddest part of the whole ordeal was when Nicole realized that she wouldn’t live to see her daughters grow up. “Nicole realised she wouldn’t see Aaylah, who’s five, and Alavis who is 18 months old, attend their first day of school, or Alkere’s first day of secondary school, nor see any of them graduate, or enter into their careers or further studies,” said her mother, through tears.
Even worse was the idea that Nicole would never witness the birth of her grandchildren. She’d never hear them call her Nanna, and would miss all their birthdays. Still, she soldiered on as best she could, for their sakes. She knew she wouldn’t make it, but she was going to make sure that while she was there, she told her children how much she cherished them…
The whole time she was suffering, Nicole’s mother grew more and more irate at her GI doctor’s initial diagnosis. When she’d gone to see a doctor about the symptoms, he told her that she was “too young” for bowel cancer. They did no stool test, no colonoscopy, no endoscopy, nothing. All he did was giver her medication for the IBS she didn’t have.
In September of 2017, less than two years after her fateful diagnosis, Nicole Yarran died of liver and bowel cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones. Before she went, she asked her mother to do something for her. She had a last request and it was one that her mother would make her life’s goal from that point forward…
Nicole had passed away at a mere 34 years old, but her last wish for her family to help raise awareness about cancer in young people. That way, no one else would share her fate. Kathy Narrier is on a mission to help other young people better understand the risk of liver and bowel cancer.
Listen to Your Gut
Kathy is also reminding practitioners to respect the opinions and theories of their patients and for those patients to listen to what their gut tells them about their own symptoms. She believes that it is that initial gut instinct and the idea of being better safe than sorry that will mean the difference between life and death. She urges young people to fight…
“Fight to continually ask for further tests,” says Kathy Narrier, “Ask for a second opinions because if you don’t it could literally cost you your life, and no family needs to suffer the heartache of losing a young member of their family.”
Share Her Story
Kathy is also asking for help in sharing her daughter’s story in the hopes that enough young women and men learn from it. It’s truly a noble undertaking and is an important service she is offering to the youth of today, who are apparently more prone to Colon cancer than any other generation that’s come before…
According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, more and more young and middle-aged adults in the United States are being diagnosed with bowel cancer. It’s a worrying trend that the risk of colorectal cancer for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s. Clinicians need to be very aware of this when diagnosing things like IBS or Celiac, the two misdiagnoses that essentially killed Nicole Yarran.
See the Signs
It’s important for young people to pay attention to the signs and symptoms. Things like: a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so, rectal bleeding, unintended weight loss, cramping and persistent abdominal pain, bloody stools, or weakness should be investigated at once.