A woman battling cancer raced from her own operation to say goodbye to her mother who was dying of the same disease.
Laila Hudson, 28, raced from her hospital bed after surgery for bowel cancer to say goodbye to Ros, 64, who slipped away from a brain tumour last July 3.
The family were already reeling from the news that Ros had a glioblastoma – the most aggressive form of brain cancer – when Laila started feeling poorly too.
She had just moved back to her parents’ home in a village just outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands to be near her mum when she began suffering agonising abdominal pain.
Doctors found a tumour “so massive it was squashing all her organs,” Laila told Nottinghamshire Live.
While she recovered from a series of treatments to fight the disease, there was tragically little she could do to help her frail mum.
She said: “It continued to get worse and worse and I was really quite distressed. The pain was so bad that, four weeks after my operation, I was admitted to hospital again.”
In and out of hospital, while doctors tried to find the cause of her pain, at one point they thought her bowel had been impacted because of her ovarian tumour squashing everything around it.
But, given a CT scan to examine her bowel, doctors broke the alarming news that they had found another tumour.
“It was on my bowel and they were almost certain it was going to be cancer, but I was on so many painkillers I barely batted an eyelid,” she said.
“I just wanted the pain gone.”
On June 21 she was rushed back to hospital due to complications with yet another surgery. “And I was very aware of the time I was wasting in the hospital when I should have been with my mum,” Laila said.
As she recovered from the latest operation, she was told that Ros had tragically taken a turn for the worse.
Driven home by her brother George, thankfully she made it in time to say goodbye to Ros – who died just an hour and a half after her daughter arrived and 15 weeks after her diagnosis.
“Missing those last three weeks of her life keeps me awake at night,” Laila said.
“The last year has been really hard and the worst thing about being ill was losing time with my mum.”
Laila continued: “She was an incredibly warm and loving person and the most wonderful mum.
“On the anniversary of her death, we are going to scatter her ashes on a beach where she rode her horse, Dougal.”
Sadly, when Laila said goodbye to her mum, her own journey was far from over.
She was told the cancer in her ovary was in fact bowel cancer that had spread, and this meant it was stage four.
Then, after eight rounds of chemo she developed an infection in her Hickman line in her chest, which caused an abscess in her brain.
She is now having regular scans to monitor her progress and even returned to work in March after being told there were no signs left of the disease.
But one of the worst parts of her ordeal has been coping with her stoma bag, which allows waste to leave her body into a bag attached to her side.
She is now telling her story in an effort to address the stigma of living with a stoma.
Laila said: “When I first got my stoma I didn’t want any of my friends to know and I was really upset when people found out when I came out of hospital. The first month was really hard and I was fixated on having it reversed.
“I really struggled to accept that this was now part of my body. Speaking out about it is really important – and if I had known more about other people having them, it wouldn’t have been such a big shock.
“But now I just think, what’s the alternative? I think the more people know about them, the less stigma there is likely to be.”
Genevieve Edwards, chief executive at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We sadly often hear from younger patients, like Laila, that they have experienced severe delays to their bowel cancer diagnosis because of their age.
“We urge everyone, no matter what their age, to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bowel cancer and contact their GP as soon as possible if they have bleeding from their bottom, blood in their poo, a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason, and a pain or lump in their tummy, to ensure the best possible chance of an early diagnosis.”