Woman who dropped three dress sizes thought she was getting fit but it was actually terminal cancerMelanie Swan-Horton's dramatic weight loss was due to bowel cancerShe had started high protein diet to slim down after divorce two years ago
After chemo and surgery nothing more can be done for married mumDying mission is to educate people on how to spot cancer symptoms
19:50 GMT, 30 May 2012
When dieter Melanie Swan-Horton saw her weight plummet from a size 16 to a size ten she was thrilled.
She finally had a body to be proud of and put her tiredness and lethargy down to the hours spent in the gym.
But her exhaustion and her weight loss were in fact signs of bowel cancer.
Dramatic: Melanie Swan-Horton went down six dress sizes but unfortunately it was because she had developed bowel cancer
Unfortunately Mel ignored the symptoms and put them down to the side effects of her diet and exercise regime.
Now after surgery and chemotherapy the married mother of two from Norwich, in Norfolk, has been told nothing more can be done to save her life.
Because she missed the warning signs for so long the cancer has now spread to her liver and lungs.
Brave: Mrs Swan-Horton with her husband Kristian. She says she wants to let make
everyone aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer before she dies
BOWEL CANCER: THE FACTS AND THE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Bowel cancer affects more than 36,500 people in the UK every year.
It is the second most common cancer in women – around 18,400 new cases were diagnosed in the UK in 2009.
The biggest single risk factor is age as the chances of having bowel cancer go up after 50.
1 in 10 people are under 50 when they get bowel cancer – Melanie Swan-Horton (featured) is 46.
Early bowel cancer may have no symptoms. Initial symptoms can also occur in people with less serious problems such as haemorrhoids.
However, the NHS recommends seeing your doctor if you notice the following:
Blood in your stools or bleeding from the rectumA change to normal bowel habits for a number of weeks – such as diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal pain or a lump in the stomach, unexplained weight loss.As the disease progresses it can also cause anaemia leading to fatigue and breathlessness.
If you are worried about any symptoms you can also call the Bowel Cancer UK Support line on 0800 8403540
She said: ‘I’m still having treatment, but it’s palliative care now just to keep me going.
mentally and physically exhausted and I’m finding it hard to keep going
at the moment but I don’t want to let this horrible disease win.
I die I want every man and woman in Britain to know the signs of bowel
cancer. I thought I was getting really slim and fit but it was the
cancer killing me and other slimmers need to be aware.’
is concerned that in the run up to the holiday period women who are
dieting may also miss the tell tale signs and symptoms which are putting
their own lives at risk.
The former charity manager said: ‘ I’m not trying to panic people but I genuinely thought I was slimmer, fitter and happier than ever. When I heard them say incurable cancer I was shocked and devastated.
‘I just want people to know the facts so they can get checked out. If I had it may have saved my life.’
Melanie, 46, started slimming to rebuild her confidence after a divorce two years ago.
She followed a high protein plan for fast results and soon dropped from a size 16 to a size ten.
Melanie met her new husband Kristian, 36, who regularly worked out at the gym and encouraged Melanie to join him.
Within three months of working out with weights she had achieved an enviable bikini body.
‘When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t believe it was me. I’d gone from a frumpy middle-aged mother to toned and slim. It was astonishing and I loved buying a bikini for the first time in years.’
‘My confidence rocketed and I wished I had done it sooner.'
Big change: Mrs Swan-horton followed a high protein plan for fast results after meeting her now husband Kristian who regularly worked out
Working out: Training in the gym hid the signs of Mrs Swan-Horton's underlying bowel
cancer. As she thought she was getting healthier the cancer was
But at the same time she started feeling drained and tired. ‘ It was no surprise really because I was spending up to two hours in the gym so I thought nothing of it.
When Melanie noticed blood in the toilet she was alarmed. ‘ I was shocked at first but then I remembered hearing that lifting weights could cause small bleeds so again I put it down to the exercise.
‘All the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit. Of course if it had come out of the blue and if I hadn’t been dieting and lifting weights I would have gone to the GP immediately.’
But three months later with the bleeding persisting she finally saw her doctor.
He referred her to hospital and two weeks later she went back for the results.
It was then that she was told she was suffering from bowel cancer.
Tying the knot: Melanie Swan-Horton and husband Kristian on their wedding day
Chemotherapy treatment to shrink the tumour to an operable size started immediately.
But on the operating table doctors discovered the cancer had now spread to her liver.
Despite further chemotherapy, tumours were then found in her lungs.
A week after the devastating news Melanie married Kristian last September in Cyprus in front of her twin daughters aged 24.
Back home she continued chemotherapy but was recently told it had stopped working.
Disguised: Melanie says she doesn't want to scare people but wants them to know the facts about bowel cancer so they can get checked out
Battling: Mrs Swan-Horton has been told there is nothing more that can be done for her but says she doesn't want to give up fighting for more time with her daughters, husband and family and friends
‘I was told there was nothing more that could be done for me. There was a slight possibility of taking part in clinical trials to keep it at bay for a little longer but I knew it would be draining so my doctors agreed I could go on holiday and think it over.
‘I decided to try but it’s very hard and I feel very poorly now. I’ll do my best to keep going though.
‘I haven’t asked how long I have because I don’t want to give up fighting for more time with my daughters, husband, family and friends.
‘They have all been amazing and I love them all to bits. I don’t think I would have got this far without their support.
‘If bowel cancer is found in time it can be cured so if you read my story and you have any of the symptoms please see your GP.’