How drawing helped me come to terms with bowel cancer and pregnancy at the same time

Tiny drawings Matilda Tristram
Matilda Tristram

I’d been experiencing a sharp pain in my stomach on-and-off for more than a year but doctors thought it was nothing to worry about.

Eventually the pain became so bad that my husband Tom took me to A&E; I couldn’t keep any food down, and was pregnant with our first child. My symptoms were first thought to be pregnancy-related, then I was sent home with suspected norovirus.

Two weeks later I still couldn’t eat, the pain was unbearable and we returned to A&E. This time I refused to leave without first being given an MRI scan.

The scan showed that a tumour was completely blocking my bowel. From that point on everything progressed quickly. A surgeon explained they needed to remove the tumour plus more than a foot of my bowel, and would do their best not to disturb the pregnancy.

I don’t feel anything

My surgeon told us he could see our baby in my womb as they operated and we were so relieved to hear his little heart beat on the monitor a few days later, he had survived. Then we were given the tumour diagnosis; it was cancerous…