Mum-of-three tragically dies after dismissing bowel cancer symptoms as postnatal issues


A mum-of-three tragically died after dismissing cancer symptoms as postnatal issues following childbirth.

Laura Stephenson was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2018 – just 12 months after she’d given birth to twins.

The 36-year-old, who worked for nine years as a fundraiser for various cancer charities, hadn’t been feeling well but put it down to her body recovering from the effects of childbirth, according to LancsLive.

She eventually decided to visit the doctor and was referred to hospital for scans – but the results pointed to the much more sinister news that she had terminal bowel cancer.

On December 28, 2019, just one year after her diagnosis, Laura passed away, leaving behind three daughters, all of whom she had wanted to see “grow up and get married.”

Laura’s father, Mike Barnes, explained: “She hadn’t been feeling well but thought it was her body readjusting from childbirth.

“She ended up seeing a doctor who referred her to hospital for scans where she was told she had terminal bowel cancer.

“She called me as she was in the car on the way home to give the news to her mum.

“I was volunteering in Malawi at the time. She told me she wanted to see her girls grow up and get married, and when you’re that distance away all you can say is ‘you will’”.



Laura and her beloved dad, Mike

Mike, from Preston, returned home straight away to be with his daughter, and explains that she never let her diagnosis get in her way.

Mike recalled: “She just went and lived a full life, she refused to let it stop her do anything at all.

“She had three daughters and insisted on picking them up from school every day.

“Cancer wasn’t going to stop her being a mum, it wasn’t going to interfere with her relationship with those around her, and it wasn’t going to stop her working and helping others.

“I know I’m biased, but she was such an amazing person. Everyone that met her fell in love with her.

“Stage 4 bowel cancer has a survival rate of eight per cent,, and I was hoping with everything I had that she’d be one of the eight per cent.”

During her cancer battle, Laura kept a blog documenting her experiences, which Mike decided to compile into a book entitled Nobody Said It Would Be Easy.

He describes it as “a story of courage, faith, positivity and never giving up”.

In an excerpt from her book, Laura writes: “We have the freedom to choose how we approach something. Being given that freedom is something that I wouldn’t swap for anything.

“I will choose faith over fear, hope over worry and belief over doubt every time.”



Mike says talking about how 'lovely' Laura was 'brings her memory back'
Mike says talking about how ‘lovely’ Laura was ‘brings her memory back’

Mike says that compiling his daughter’s words feels like he is keeping her memory alive.

He added: “My whole family talk quite freely about Laura and we’re very open about everything.

“Talking about how lovely she was brings her memory back.

“Her eldest daughter, who’s now eight, did comment that she can’t remember her mummy’s voice.

“Having something tangible she can hold gives her and her sisters their mummy’s words, even if it is in a written form.”

Now, after running a half marathon with Laura in 2012, Mike has decided to run the London Marathon in October to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK in his daughter’s memory.

He admitted: “Everyone says ‘I couldn’t do that’ when I tell them what I’m doing. I’m not even sure I can!”

Laura’s book is available to order on Amazon now starting at £4.99 with all proceeds going to Bowel Cancer UK.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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