Student battling shock cancer diagnosis – after learning she suspects Crohn’s disease


A Birmingham student said she suspected Crohn’s disease was stunned to find out she had stage three cancer instead.

Karen Bucknall, of Acocks Green, learned that her body “continues to produce tumors” and has been warned that there may not be a “quick fix”.

She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2019, but continued her education while under treatment and is now ready for a dream mission to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in her hometown.

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Karen said, “My life has changed in ways that I could never have imagined and while I still live with cancer and its effects, I feel braver, stronger and smarter than ever.”

She went to her GP after spotting blood in her poo and was told it was Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.



But when it appeared she had cancer, the 51-year-old was told she would need surgery and use a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

Intrepid, she continued her education, earning a degree in Sociology from Coventry University and a Level 3 certificate in Basic Journalism.

She is now ready to take on a role as an intern sports journalist with television production company Sunset + Vine, including working on the massive sports jamboree that will travel to Birmingham next summer.

Karen said, “At first the doctor thought it might be Crohn’s disease, so it was a shock to learn that I had stage three bowel cancer.



A Coventry University graduate thanked staff for helping her graduate while courageously battling bowel cancer.

“I was told I would need surgery and have a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. I just sat there stunned. “

“I still remember his words – he said, ‘Your body keeps making tumors, whether cancerous or benign, we can control them, but I don’t know if I can give you a miracle cure.’ “

Karen underwent six weeks of radiation therapy to shrink the tumor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in June 2019.

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And in November, she underwent surgery at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield to remove the tumor and install an ostomy hole for a colostomy bag.

But things took a turn for the worse when her cancer spread through her vagina and lymph nodes.

“I was so embarrassed. No girl should ever have to receive this news,” she said.

In early 2020, Karen began six months of chemotherapy at Solihull Hospital. Although she is still battling cancer, she is looking forward to her first Christmas at home in three years and is eager to start her new career.



Karen Bucknall showed a formidable spirit to complete her degree in Sociology – even completing her thesis while undergoing chemotherapy.

She said she understood the importance of cancer research after her grandfather died of bowel cancer at the age of 61.

Karen said, “I know from my grandfather’s experience how much research has progressed. If I had been diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, I might not be here today.

“Cancer is as urgent a problem as it ever has been because of the pandemic. Everyone knows someone who is touched, so I hope that the people who read my story will play their part. Every action, big or small, helps Cancer Research UK ensure the survival of more people like me.

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“I’m not out of the woods yet but I’m determined to continue focusing on what I can do because cancer doesn’t define me, being Karen defines me.

“I used to dream of being a journalist in the chemo department, without imagining for a single moment that I would go to college and pass a journalism course.



The remarkable 51-year-old hopes to spend her first Christmas in three years at home with her family after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2019.

“In January, I can’t wait to become a sports journalist. It’s just amazing.

Paula Young, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the West Midlands, said: “We are very grateful to Karen for her support. Cancer is relentless, but so are we. We will never stop striving for better treatments, but we cannot do it. her alone. “

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