A woman whose husband told her she "looked like a Minion" because of jaundice later discovered it was due to a violent form of cancer.
Becki Buggs woke up on Christmas morning last year not feeling quite right, but dragged herself out of bed to watch her kids, Jacob, nine, and Georgie, eight, open their presents, she told Metro.co.uk.
"As the morning went on, I felt progressively worse and by lunchtime I just couldn’t stand up anymore and I had to go to bed," she recalled.
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"To this day, my daughter Georgie recalls this as the start of me being unwell. I’ve heard her say 'that’s when mummy started to feel ill, she didn’t even eat her Christmas dinner'."
The next day she spent most of the day bedbound but managed to get up and have a shower.
"When I emerged, not feeling any better, my husband looked at me and said ‘Becki, you look like a Minion'," she said.
"I just replied ‘thank you, I love you too!’ – thinking he was joking, but I turned to look in the mirror and he was right. I was jaundiced and had gone yellow."
Becki, who had worked as a nurse for 20 years, knew jaundice could be a sign of a serious underlying health condition and frantically called a doctor, who told her to go to a surgical assessment unit as quickly as possible.
A blood test revealed high levels of bilirubin, which had caused the jaundice, as well as ALT and ALP which indicated she may have liver problems.
"Having seen blood tests similar to this and their eventual outcomes in the past, it’s fair to say at this point that I was very scared," Becki recalled.
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"And then I had my fears confirmed."
In January 2022, at the age of 43, Becki was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – one of the most deadly common cancers and kills more than half of those who receive a diagnosis within three months.
Fortunately Becki was one of the lucky ones and caught her cancer relatively early, meaning she could have the only treatment that cures pancreatic cancer – an invasive surgery which can take up to nine hours and can involve removing multiple organs.
Despite its gruelling nature, however, the mum-of-two still felt lucky as a whopping 80% of people catch their pancreatic cancer too late for surgery to be effective.
On February 17, she went for surgery at London's Royal Free Hospital and was successfully treated and discharged 11 days later.
Becki is now on the road to recovery and is receiving chemotherapy.
"It’s hard to describe what chemotherapy is like for people that haven’t experienced it, but intentionally poisoning your body is as awful as it sounds," Becki said.
"I’ve had numerous issues with chemotherapy – from deep vein thrombosis, to having needed multiple blood transfusions, but I do feel lucky to be alive."
Now, Becki is backing Pancreatic Cancer UK’s campaign No Time to Wait in a bid to save the lives of people who will receive this diagnosis.
"As a nurse, I was able to recognise the warning signs, but it shouldn’t take a patient having medical knowledge to save their life," Becki added.
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