Charmaine Chantler was practically confined to her home by the intense pain and chronic diarrhea that had her rushing to the washroom up to 12 times a day. The thirty-year-old could do nothing as her weight dropped dramatically to just 100 lbs.
She believed that her digestive troubles were caused by irritable bowel syndrome, a widespread condition often associated with stress, anxiety, depression or a previous intestinal infection. The chronic syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
When Charmaine went to her doctor with her concerns the first time, she was diagnosed with IBS - likely a result of the glandular fever she had experienced months before. But the actual cause of her discomfort was more uncommon and much worse.
When the 30 year-old went out with friends, she would position herself near the ladies' washroom in restaurants, and once ran out of the movie theater because of her stomach troubles.
The condition became too much to manage, so she visited her doctor in Newcastle, England again, and they ran more tests. To her shock, the tests revealed that she didn't have IBS at all. In fact, she had a rare kind of endocrine cancer that causes tumors to grow in these hormone-producing glands.
'When I was told it was cancer I assumed I was going to die,' she told The Daily Mail.
The surgery left a large, triangle etched across her stomach.
The operation lasted five hours and surgeons removed the 2.8 cm tumor. Her cancer, MEN 1, was a rare genetic condition that affects one in 30,000 people. Charmaine will have full body scans and blood tests every six months, but she will not require any more treatment.
Since having the procedure in June, her life has become her own again, 'Life is a lot better now that I don't have to plan everything around being close to a toilet.'
As for the scar? She's not ashamed.
"A friend said it looked like a triangle, a symbol of strength - because no matter how much pressure you put on any side, it will never break," she says.