A mum-of-three has been given less than 18 months to live just weeks after getting married – after her ‘ irritable bowl syndrome ‘ turned out to be terminal stomach cancer.
Shona Johnson started suffering from stomach cramps, bloating and weight loss back in March 2021 – but says she was repeatedly reassured it wasn’t cancer.
The 33-year-old claims she even underwent a CT scan and had a camera inserted into her throat which didn’t detect cancer – leaving the mum of three-relieved there was no cause for concern.
But she was rushed to hospital in May in immense pain – and fluids from her stomach revealed she has stage four stomach cancer.
She had just married her partner of ten years a month before in March and was about to set up an events business when she was diagnosed.
Now Shona is undergoing chemo to prolong her life and spending time with new husband Jahred, 28, and children, Kelsey, eight, Alijah, five, and Kaya, three.
Shona, from Reading, Berkshire, said: “When I first found out it was cancer, I had to walk from my ward in the hospital and tell my mum the bad news.
“I was in shock and everyone around me broke down. They were mostly upset as we kept getting reassured it wasn’t cancer, even up until the day they told us it was.
“Even that morning, they told me it definitely wasn’t cancer. We look back at wedding photos and think about how happy we were four months ago.
“It was the happiest day for us to now be facing this and leaving my husband a widower so soon with three babies breaks my heart.
“My husband has been an amazing support and has done his best to balance working and taking care of me and the kids.”
Shona started experiencing symptoms similar to IBS back in 2021 and said she was reassured that there was nothing to worry about.
But in May this year she was rushed to the hospital because she was in extreme pain and vomiting blood but claims that after numerous CT scans and blood tests, the cancer went undetected.
Shona said: “I had a CT scan and camera down my throat and they told me the results on the same day.
“They said my CT and biopsies taken were all fine other than a small hiatus hernia, and some fluid but only a small amount and no cause for concern but I had a condition called GORD limiting what I could eat.
“I ended up in emergency surgical unit for almost three weeks because I was in so much pain. I had my second CT scan and they drained fluids from my belly to test and repeated the CT scan.
“They said it’s hard to read because I have no stomach muscle or fat and it was the fluid that showed them I had stomach cancer.
“They called me and my husband into a side room and said it’s cancer of the stomach and the fact that it’s in the fluid is a bad sign as it’s spread.
“I stayed in hospital to get more tests done and manage my symptoms and was told that without chemo I’d be looking at a few months.
“With chemo I might survive for a year, maybe two.
“I was so scared to leave the hospital as I wasn’t sure if I was well enough but I did go home for a week before I was back in hospital with the symptoms again.
“I was vomiting blood, like bile. I was constipated, I had a big, hard bloated belly and the feeling things were moving.
“This time the oncologist team came to see me and explained and delivered the news and information in a much better way.”
Shona and Jahred have been forced to explain to their heartbroken children that their mum may not be around for much longer and will become ‘a star’.
Shona said: “At first, I was so worried about what sort of lives they might have if they take this badly.
“The affects it could have on their mental health was the biggest worry but Daisy Dream charity had some great advice and a book and we sat all the children down and explained what the syringe driver and picc line were.
“We read an amazing book called Mummy Goes To Hospital and the children felt better to see and hear that it’s not just their mummy that this is happening to.
“My eldest asked questions about how long I might be here for. My son has autism so we weren’t sure on his understanding of it all but if you ask him what’s going to happen when mummy becomes a star, he says that his daddy and sisters will take care of him so we feel he’s understanding as much as he can.
“We told my three-year-old I was going to the stars and she got upset, gave me the biggest cuddle and asked me not to go.
“It was the hardest the most painful conversation I’ve ever had but the way they are all handling it is making me so proud of them.”
Friends have set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for Shona and her family to make the most of the time they have left together.
Shona is sharing her story to help raise awareness of stomach cancer and urge anyone with similar symptoms to get them checked.
Shona said: “I hope that by sharing our story we either helps support someone going through the same thing, break the myth that only a certain age and gender are getting certain types of cancer.
“I think we should have more up today information out there.
“We need to look for new ways to detect cancer as my mum and grandmother both had CT scans just like me and their cancers weren’t picked up on until it was too late.
“When I was in hospital, I sadly met a few other young mothers and families whose stories are much like mine.
“They knew they were poorly and had all the symptoms but couldn’t get to see a doctor face to face or were being misdiagnosed because they were considered too young to get various types of cancer.
“That myth is the reason a lot of us are losing our lives.”
A spokesperson for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are very sorry to hear of this lady’s situation and we will do all we can to support her. We are undertaking a clinical review into the circumstances around her case.”