Single mum’s ‘severe’ symptom on the toilet was terminal bowel cancer

Bowel cancer: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms

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A single mum-of-three is preparing to say goodbye to her children following a “devastating” terminal bowel cancer diagnosis. Louise Hayward, 48, has been told she has less than a year to live after the disease spread to her liver and lungs. She is now raising cash to support her two youngest, aged seven and nine, for after she is gone.

Louise, from Bristol, first noticed blood when she went to the toilet in November 2020.

One day she suffered such a severe bleed after going to the loo that all she could do was “sit on a towel to stop the bleeding”.

She told SWNS: “I felt like I was giving birth, that’s how bad the pain was.”

Louise recalled putting off visiting her doctor due to the pandemic – but it became so bad that she had no choice.

Doctors diagnosed her quickly after finding a seven centimetre tumour in her bowel.

She began chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but after two years, the single stay-at-home mum was told the cancer had spread.

In November last year she was told it had spread to her liver and lungs, and had begun to affect her kidneys too, and doctors gave her a year to live.

“All of this is so scary – I was never expecting to be told I was dying,” she said. “In November 2022, they told me there is nothing else they can do – I was devastated.

“I begged them to give me more chemotherapy – which they did – but it’s hard to accept I am going to die soon.

“I watched Deborah James deteriorate – she was on the same meds that I am on. I watched her deteriorate, and thought ‘soon that’s going to be me’.”

The mum to William, 19, Faith, nine, and Louie, seven, is now fundraising to support her children after she passes away.

She has so far received over £3,000 in donations for her kids.

Louise’s sister, Rachel, 47, whose children are grown up, will eventually move into Louise’s house to parent little Faith and Louie.

While her eldest son William, a mechanics apprentice, is aware of her prognosis, her little ones have no idea yet.

She wants to raise as much money to support her three children as she can, before she tells them.

“It’s so unfair on my kids – they know about my cancer but I haven’t been able to tell them I’m dying,” Louise said. “How do I tell them they’re going to lose their mum at such a young age?”

She doesn’t even plan to have a funeral to limit her children’s future pain.

“I don’t want to put my children through it twice – you lose somebody, then you live it all over again at the funeral,” Louise said.

To donate to Louise’s fundraiser, visit

Common symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • A persistent change in bowel habit
  • Blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating.

If you experience any of these symptoms you should see a GP.

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