Mum, 40, died after bowel cancer symptoms were initially diagnosed as IBS

A beloved mum died of bowel cancer at the age of just 40 after her symptoms were initially thought to be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Helen Dutton, first went to her GP complaining of abdominal cramps and bleeding. At the time, she had a blood test and was advised she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and was given medication.

But two years later her symptoms persisted and her GP referred her for a colonoscopy. Further tests revealed the mum-of-one was living with a tumour and she was diagnosed with cancer in January 2019.

Helen, from Droylsden in Greater Manchester, underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery which left her with a permanent stoma.

Despite this, in August 2020, it was discovered the finance manager’s cancer had returned and even though she had more chemotherapy, the cancer had spread. She died in hospital in August 2021.

Now Helen’s partner Darren Rosheski, 52, says he has “so many unanswered questions” about if her cancer could have been found earlier.

The tradesman said: “Helen had struggled with her bowels for a while but when she was told it was likely to be IBS, we trusted the professionals.

“To then be given the news that she had cancer was a huge shock.

“Helen and I had been together for almost 20 years and I couldn’t imagine not spending the rest of my life with her.

“She was determined to fight the cancer with everything she had.

“Sadly, it wasn’t enough and our beloved Helen was taken from us far too soon.

“She was the best mum to Lilli-Mai and to see our daughter having to navigate through life without her mum is heartbreaking.

“We have so many unanswered questions and while we would give anything to have Helen back, we know that’s not possible.

“All we can hope for now is that by sharing our story, we can raise awareness of bowel cancer and its symptoms.

“Watching Helen suffer towards the end was unbearable and catching the disease early could be the difference between life and death.

“If we can save another person by speaking out, it will have been worth it.”

After Helen was told her cancer had spread, she instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care and see if the disease could have been found sooner. Darren has continued to pursue her case since she died.

According to the NHS, symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
  • Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • Tummy pain
  • A lump in your tummy
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason.

If you experience any symptoms you should speak to your GP.