Monday, September 28, 2020

18-year old girl becomes one of the youngest ever to die of bowel cancer in the world

A heartbroken mum is determined to fulfill her tragic daughter’s dying wish to raise awareness for teenage bowel cancer.

Charlotte Simpson became one of the youngest people ever to die from bowel cancer in the UK, aged 18.

Her mum, Sarah, 46, said that a year ago, Charlotte was a “very happy young woman”.

In her second year of A-levels, she was in love with fellow student Scott Dickinson, 19, and lived at home with Sarah, a former civil servant, her dad, carpet company director David, 48, and brother, Elliott, 15.

When she complained of an extreme stomach upset in October 2019, no one dreamed that within months she’d be diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer, and would lose her life on May 22.

Dying peacefully at home in Whiteley, Hampshire, surrounded by her family, Charlotte was one of on average just three 15-19-year-olds to be diagnosed annually with the disease, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

Sarah said: “I couldn’t believe someone so young could be diagnosed with a disease you associate with older people.

“Charlotte’s whole attitude from the start was amazing. She said, ‘It’s going to be ok’. Every day I would think, ‘This can’t be real’.”

When Charlotte – who was aiming to start a primary teaching degree at the University of Winchester this month – was first hit by extreme stomach pain, Sarah, who has Coeliac disease, suspected Charlotte might have it too, but blood tests only detected anaemia.

“She was given iron tablets, but was losing weight and felt exhausted all the time,” says Sarah.

After several more hospital visits, by mid-December, Charlotte found blood in her stools and, ill throughout Christmas, twice went to hospital in agony.

It was only after a colonoscopy on January 16 at Southampton General Hospital that the real problem was found.

Sarah said: “Doctors said there was a very high chance Charlotte had cancer, to which she replied, ‘Don’t be silly, I’m only 17.’”

When it was confirmed that she had stage four bowel cancer, which had spread to her stomach and lymph nodes, Sarah said: “My world fell apart.”

On February 5, Charlotte started chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

But by March, a scan showed the tumour in her stomach had spread. By April, she was given just weeks to live.

Lockdown meant she couldn’t see anyone other than her mum in hospital so her parents decided she should spend her last days at home. Two weeks later she died.

Despite her heartbreak, Sarah is determined to raise awareness of teenage bowel cancer. “I don’t want to see other families grieving like us,” she said.