Woman Told She Should 'Stretch More' at Gym Diagnosed With Stage 4 Cancer

A 27-year-old weightlifter who says she was told by a doctor that she was experiencing pain because she wasn't "stretching properly" at the gym, and had her symptoms frequently dismissed was actually suffering from stage 4 ovarian cancer.

Sophie Pugh said doctors dismissed a three-centimeter growth on her left ovary as unimportant eight months before she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer, the Daily Mail reported.

Now, despite the fact that the cancer has spread to both of her lungs and she has had to stop working as a disability carer, Pugh is determined to keep fighting.

She told the paper that "all the signs were there" as she suffered from lower back pain, and a sore upper leg. This soon developed into severe abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty going to the toilet

These symptoms, all signs of ovarian cancer, were dismissed by doctors. The former weightlifter said that the growth was finally picked up when she visited the doctor regarding extremely painful "crippling" periods.

She said: "They were so bad that I would drop to the ground and [they were] super heavy, I went to get them checked twice and was told I had polycystic ovaries.

"The second time when they found the growth instead of scarring I was told they didn't act on them until they were over four centimeters.

"They didn't think it was important."

Pugh began to develop more symptoms such as back and upper leg pain which she says one doctor dismissed as not stretching properly after visits to the gym. Pugh added: "I knew I was because I stretch for 20 minutes before and after each session.

"We now know it was a symptom of the cancer."

Before the diagnosis, the 27-year-old had been sent home food the ER while suffering from abdominal pain and diarrhea, and after being told she was suffering from food poisoning.

The final straw came while Pugh was lying in bed and her cat jumped on her stomach causing her excruciating pain. Pugh said: "I just cried in pain and my partner told me I had to go to the doctor."

The 27-year-old was rushed to a nearby ER with suspected appendicitis. Finally, eight months after the onset of symptoms Pugh was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

She underwent surgery to remove the growth but was told that it had rapidly grown from 10 to 15 centimeters in between diagnosis and surgery and had also spread to her lungs.

Pugh will soon face the first of five rounds of chemotherapy, which could she hopes could kill the cancer. She is also hopeful that successful treatment could help her achieve her dream of becoming a mother.

Pugh said: "Some doctors question whether it will work, but if I don't try and then I can't have kids later, I will kick myself.

"I have always dreamed of becoming a mom—since I was like 14—but wanted to do it right, wanted to have a career and my own house, which I have now," Sophie said. "I just hope that my chances for that life aren't ruined."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the main symptoms of ovarian cancer as; vaginal bleeding—particularly past menopause—or usual discharge from the vagina, pain or pressure in the pelvic area, and abdominal or back pain.

The CDC adds that bloating, difficulty eating or an unusual full feeling, and a change in bathroom habits such as more frequent or urgent need to urinate and constipation can also be symptoms of the cancer which is the second most common gynecologic cancer in the United States.

Friends of Pugh have organized a Go Fund Me to help her financially while she is unable to work. Josie Spencer, a friend of Pugh's wrote: "But the bills won't stop coming in. So every $ helps! We are hoping to get her sandpit of a backyard done so Sophie can sit outside in the fresh air and sunshine while she recovers.

"She will recover with the help of Team Sophie."

Stomach pain
A stock image of a woman experiencing stomach pain. Sophie Pugh discovered she had ovarian cancer which had spread to her lungs 8 months after the onset of symptoms she says were repeatedly dismissed by doctors. Domepitipat/GETTY