Mother diagnosed with bowel cancer after spotting key symptom during pregnancy


A woman who has been diagnosed with colon cancer said her symptoms completely disappeared after giving birth.

Jennaca Russ, 37, started experiencing blood in her stool and anaemia – lack of enough healthy red blood cells – in her second trimester of pregnancy.

Russ, who is a nurse, noticed the problem and visited a doctor who assured her that her symptoms were caused by the pregnancy. She went on to book a colonoscopy – a test to check inside your bowels – for November 2022.

After giving birth to her first child in October 2022, Russ’s symptoms stopped. As a result, she did not feel it was necessary to go to her appointment, but her mother advised her otherwise.

Russ attended her colonoscopy and was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was told she had a 10 per cent chance of survival.

The nurse from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US, told SWNS: “It was a pretty dark day for us, I got the news two or three days before Thanksgiving.”

“Initially they thought I would be stage one or two but the next day I had a CT where we found out it had spread to my liver.

“Going into the holidays I thought it would be my last with my family but it was also the first one for my baby.”

The nurse said it was in her second trimester when she started experiencing blood in her stool but was told by doctors it was caused by internal haemorrhoids – lumps inside and around your bottom.

Jennaca Russ was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2022 (SWNS)
Jennaca Russ was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2022 (SWNS)

Russ said of the diagnosis: “It was devastating, speaking to my doctor and he told me I had a year to live.

“After Thanksgiving, I had an appointment with an oncologist who changed my prognosis.

“He said I have years but it will be a long fight as the survival rate is poor.

“I have a 10 per cent chance that I will live for five years,” she added.

Russ attended an MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, in December. Russ said: “The doctors there said that they believe they can remove my liver tumours.

“I have my colon cancer surgery at the end of February, they said the cure rate is about 40 per cent which is light years ahead of what I was told before.

“Doctors are still deciding when I will have my liver surgery.”

Since being diagnosed, Russ has had four rounds of chemotherapy to help shrink the tumours before the operation.

Russ said: “It has been very emotional, the beginning was very hard.

“I want people to be aware to advocate for themselves, colon cancer in younger people is rising dramatically.

“Since I have been talking about my story I have found a lot of people in the same situation as me.”

Russ lost her job as a nurse due to her illness and a GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for her cancer treatments. So far the page has raised $29,598 (£24,616) of the $50,000 (£41,585) target.

Additional reporting from SWNS.