Doctors found my cancer during abdominal surgery, just like Kate Middleton: Woman, 38, reveals shock diagnosis and warns ‘it can happen to anyone’

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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A cancer-stricken woman has told how her cancer was spotted during abdominal surgery — just like Kate Middleton.

Maia Kennedy, 38, of Hackney, London, began suffering with nausea in December 2023 but her GP initially dismissed her symptoms as being down to acid reflux. 

She was eventually called for an emergency test, where doctors found a tumour in her bowel during her colonoscopy. 

At the time it was thought to be pre-cancerous.

Ms Kennedy was then dealt the devastating news that it was stage-one cancer after undergoing routine surgery to remove part of her bowel in February 2024.

Maia Kennedy, 38, began suffering with nausea in December 2023 and was called for an emergency colonoscopy

In December 2023, Ms Kennedy (pictured in hospital) experienced nausea and a change in bowel habits, both of which were dismissed by her GP as acid reflux

It wasn't until doctors ran some tests that she was called in for an emergency colonoscopy in January during which they found a tumour

In December 2023, Ms Kennedy (pictured in hospital) experienced nausea and a change in bowel habits, both of which were dismissed by her GP as acid reflux. It wasn’t until doctors ran some tests that she was called in for an emergency colonoscopy in January during which they found a tumour

Because it was caught early, she didn’t need chemotherapy and is now in remission.

However, she sees parallels between her own experience and that of the Princess of Wales, who last week announced her own cancer battle.

In an emotional video clip filmed in Windsor, Kate, 42, revealed the news had come as a ‘huge shock’ and that she and William ‘have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family’.

WHAT IS BOWEL CANCER?

Bowel cancer is found anywhere in the large bowel, which includes the colon and rectum. 

Around 43,000 Brits are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year.

Symptoms include:

  • Changes in your poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you
  • Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • Tummy pain
  • A lump in your tummy
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason

Source: NHS and Cancer Research UK  

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Ms Kennedy, who is close in age to Kate, said: ‘As a young healthy woman, you never think it will happen to you.

‘But it can happen to anyone — even royalty, with the best medical care in the world.

‘I have a lot of empathy for what Kate is going through, it’s a tough time, never mind when you’re in the public eye.

‘When I heard about her surgery my thoughts went out to her.’

She added: ‘It was a strange experience finding out my journey was similar to hers.

‘With everyone talking about her, it brings up a lot of thoughts of what I have been through too.’

In December 2023, Ms Kennedy experienced nausea and a change in bowel habits, both of which were dismissed by her GP as acid reflux.

It wasn’t until doctors ran some tests that she was called in for an colonoscopy in January, during which they found the tumour. 

Ms Kennedy said: ‘I knew something wasn’t right, but you don’t go into it expecting them to find something like that — it was a huge shock for me.’

Originally specialists thought her tumour was non-cancerous, just as they had thought with Kate’s at the time of her major abdominal surgery in January.

Ms Kennedy stayed in hospital for a week following her surgery to remove part of her bowel in February.

Weeks later, while she was still recovering, she received a call informing her a biopsy of the tumour confirmed it had in fact been cancerous. 

Because the biopsy showed it was stage one bowel cancer, she didn’t need chemo.

She said: ‘It all happened so quickly from December to March.

‘It’s taken over my life but its been such a short period of time. It’s very surreal to say I had cancer.’

In a video message on Friday, Kate revealed the diagnosis 'came as a huge shock' but she was now in the 'early stages' of preventative chemotherapy treatment

In a video message on Friday, Kate revealed the diagnosis ‘came as a huge shock’ but she was now in the ‘early stages’ of preventative chemotherapy treatment

Ms Kennedy has still been struggling emotionally with her diagnosis and wants to warn others to look out for the symptoms

Ms Kennedy has still been struggling emotionally with her diagnosis and wants to warn others to look out for the symptoms

Bowel Cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, can also be known as colorectal cancer.

Tumours can be found anywhere in the bowel or rectum.

Around 43,000 Brits are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, Cancer Research UK says. 

Tell-tale symptoms include bleeding from your bottom, bloating, losing weight without trying, tummy pain and changes in poo, such as having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you. 

The Princess of Wales was admitted to a London hospital in January for planned surgery and returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery.

Doctors, however, discovered an unspecified form of cancer in tests taken after her operation.

In a video message on Friday, Kate revealed the diagnosis ‘came as a huge shock’ but she was now in the ‘early stages’ of preventative chemotherapy treatment.

Ms Kennedy admitted that learning about the Princess’ cancer journey revealed many parallels to her own.

She said: ‘When I heard about her abdominal surgery, my thoughts went out to her.

‘I thought it sounds similar to me.

‘At the time they weren’t saying mine was cancer, just like they said hers wasn’t at first.’

She is now going through NHS physical rehabilitation sessions to build her strength back up.

But Ms Kennedy has still been struggling emotionally with her diagnosis and wants to warn others to look out for the symptoms. 

‘As a young healthy woman, you never think it will happen to you. I never thought it would,’ she said. 

‘Hearing of Catherine’s story, my emotions were up and down – it brings up the “what if” feelings.

‘What if I had left it or hadn’t caught it, or had to have chemo like she did?

‘I have a lot of empathy for her and what she’s going through – it’s a tough time, never mind doing it while being in the public eye,’ she added. 

‘It has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through.

‘You need to be aware of the symptoms, because it can happen to anyone – even royalty.

‘The sooner you catch it, the better.’

Kate’s cancer battle in her own words: The Princess of Wales’ emotional video statement in full 

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, personally, for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding whilst I have been recovering from surgery.

It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I’ve had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.

This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.

As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to

George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be ok.

As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits.

Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too. As is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.

We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment. My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery.

At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.

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