My dog saved my life… by constantly sniffing my bum: Grandmother, 51, thanks Border Collie Brian for alerting doctors to her anal cancer
- The grandmother shrugged her symptoms off as piles and a potential period
- But she was diagnosed with stage three anal cancer after her dog kept pestering
A grandmother claims her pestering pooch saved her life — by constantly sniffing her bum.
Lindsey Thwaites, from Chapeltown in South Yorkshire, was eventually diagnosed with anal cancer.
She was spooked into getting a medical opinion because her two-year-old Border Collie Brian ‘would not leave me alone’.
Mrs Thwaites, 51, has suffered with piles ever since she giving birth in the 1990s but started to experience soreness and some bleeding in May.
Lindsey Thwaites, 51, blamed her discomfort on painful piles, but after her dog Brian kept sniffing her bum, she booked an appointment with her GP and eventually received a cancer diagnosis
One night she woke horrified to discover she was covered in blood, which had soaked through her underwear and pyjamas.
Mrs Thwaites shrugged it off as a potential period, cleaned herself off and went back to bed.
But Brian seemingly sensed something was wrong.
Mrs Thwaites, married to 69-year-old Dave, then discovered a marble-sized lump in her genitals.
She credits her dog’s persistent attention for persuading her to visit her GP to get it checked out — ultimately leading to her diagnosis of stage three anal cancer just a month later.
Sharing her ordeal in order to encourage people to overcome embarrassment and get anything unusual checked out, Mrs Thwaites said: ‘Brian mithering me saved my life, he pushed me to go to my GP.
‘Brian only comes for a love when he wants a love but he would just not leave me alone.
Brian a two-and-a-half-year-old border collie, was consistently sniffing the same area making Mrs Thwaites worried he could sniff cancer
Mrs Thwaites, who is married to 69-year-old Dave Thwaites (pictured left), is sharing her ordeal in order to encourage people to overcome embarrassment and get anything unusual checked out
‘He kept sniffing my bum all the time and he followed me round, I’d be like “Brian stop it”.
‘I said to my husband “he’s scaring me because I know dogs can smell cancer”.
Recalling her diagnosis, Mrs Thwaites added: ‘The first thing that goes through your head is that you’re going to die.’
Before going to the doctor, Mrs Thwaites thought the pain was just due to piles but this time cream was not helping it go away.
She said: ‘I’ve always suffered with piles since I had my first son 32 years ago.
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer is a rare cancer that starts in the anus, the opening at the end of the bowel.
Cancer is when abnormal cells start to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way.
Symptoms of this cancer can include:
- Bowel changes
- Severe itching
However, these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions such as piles (haemorrhoids). But it is important that you see your GP with any symptoms. Some people might have no symptoms.
Some people also experience a lump or the feeling that they need to open their bowels.
Mucus coming from your back passage (discharge) can be a sign of anal cancer, as can a sore that doesn’t heal.
Source: Cancer Research UK
‘They’d come and go, sometimes they’d be a little bit sore, other times I wouldn’t know I’d got them.
‘If they were a bit painful or itchy I’d use some cream, other times I would leave them and they would just go.
‘But these weren’t going, they were getting worse and feeling bigger and bigger.’
Since her diagnosis back in June, she now faces gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Mrs Thwaites says the cancer is so ‘painful and uncomfortable’ that waking, sitting down and lying on her back causes her pain.
She said: ‘It’s like shoving a grapefruit half-way up your bum and leaving the rest of it out.
‘I’ve had to have a stoma bag put on because I can’t go to the toilet. The tumour is that big it just blocks everything.’
But with the support of her dog Brian, she isn’t letting the cancer get her down.
She said: ‘Brian’s been amazing, he comes for cuddles all the time. He’s so gentle with me, he’ll lay on the back of the settee and lay his head on my shoulder as if to say “I’m looking after you”.
‘He’s been my therapy dog. He’s my little superhero.’
Mrs Thwaites is sharing her diagnosis to encourage people to overcome embarrassment and get anything unusual checked out by a doctor.
She said: ‘Don’t be embarrassed, the doctors have seen it all before.
‘If you find a lump, something doesn’t feel right or you’re bleeding – go to the doctors and let them examine you.
Mrs Thwaites says the tumour is so ‘painful and uncomfortable’ that waking, sitting down and lying on her back causes her pain. She has also been given a stoma bag because the tumour is stopping her from being able to go to the toilet
Brian has been a ‘superhero’ and comforting Mrs thwaites through her cancer battle. She now faces gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy at The Jessop Hospital in Sheffield, West Yorkshire, starting this month
‘So many people said they didn’t know you could get cancer there.’
Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and can pick up on ‘volatile organic compounds’, which are released from the early stages of many cancers.
Scientific studies have even shown pooches can separate between blood and tissue samples donated from ovarian cancer patients and healthy people by picking up on minute quantities of VOCs.
Dogs have also been found to sniff out prostate cancer in a man’s urine.
It is said that, if a dog detects cancer on their owner, they may try to alert them by paying them more attention, sniffing them, or ‘comforting’ them by gently licking their hands or feet, or laying beside them for no reason.
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