Dad, 45, dies of bowel cancer after symptoms mistaken for IBS and indigestion

A beloved dad has died at the age of just 45 after his symptoms that were initially mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion turned out to be caused by bowel cancer. When Asa Turley first started feeling unwell in 2022, doctors dismissed his symptoms believing he was too young for it to be anything serious.

It wasn’t until he collapsed at home that he was taken to hospital where a deadly tumour was discovered. Now his family is sharing his story in the hopes of prompting others to keep pushing for answers if they know something isn’t right.

Speaking to Gloucestershire Live, his partner Saffron Lockey recounted the ordeal Asa went through.

“The thing is, Asa is one of these people who will only go and see the doctor if they are really unwell,” Saffron said.

She added: “He went back to the doctor as he had lost two stone, and they still did not refer him for a colonoscopy. Asa was told it could not be anything too serious as he was too young. My mum and I had started to question if he had bowel cancer.”

Saffron, 38, recalled the symptoms Asa was experiencing.

She said: “Asa was showing signs of having bowel cancer. I know this does not sound very nice, however Asa had breath smelling like poo, he was losing weight and had diarrhoea, which are all signs.

“My mum works in palliative care, and she was going to appointments with Asa. We knew something was not right, and mum knew he was not too young to have bowel cancer.”

Saffron found him collapsed on the sofa in their home in January last year, and he was rushed to hospital, where tests were finally carried out.

She said: “It was the morning of January 5 and Asa woke up and went downstairs. I got up soon after and walked into the living room and found Asa collapsed and unresponsive, covered in faecal vomit, on the sofa.

“I called an ambulance straight away, and the paramedics took him to hospital. I waited for my mum to arrive to look after my disabled son, and then I followed Asa to the hospital.”

Saffron was then able to speak to a hospital doctor about how unwell Asa had been over the past eight months.

Saffron said: “I spoke to the doctor about Asa and the symptoms he had and being so unwell. The doctor said to me, he could not be 100 percent certain, however everything I had told him, including Asa having breath smelling like poo, he was sure Asa had bowel cancer.

“The doctor said he would put his mortgage on it.”

A CT scan confirmed Asa, from Churchdown in Gloucestershire, had bowel cancer and the next day he was taken into surgery to have the tumour removed.

He also underwent chemotherapy. However, a scan a few months later revealed the cancer had spread to his peritoneum.

To try to tackle this he had immunotherapy every two weeks.

Although this worked for a while, Asa was told in December that the illness had returned.

He had developed small tumours in the stomach area, and the immunotherapy was no longer working.

Saffron fundraised to pay for Asa to have private care and treatment as options on the NHS were limited.

Asa died peacefully from secondary cancer on March 21 at 5.15pm.

He leaves behind two children and eight step-children.

In tribute to Asa, Saffron added: “Asa was a fantastic father and step father. He was proud of his son Mason’s determined spirit, and of Finley’s talent in MMA.

“He loved working at GT Window Products with his cousin Carl Taylor, and Andy Groves, Wayne Hurdman, Neil Morrison, and Christine Fagan. He loved going for a Burger Star with his friend Ryan and putting the world to rights.

“Asa loved to be loved and was the most reliable person in the world. He loved his family, friends, his cats and he loved me.”

She encouraged others to keep pushing for answers from doctors if they experience any unexplained symptoms.

“I really feel we need to raise awareness of bowel cancer as things would have been very different for Asa if he had been diagnosed sooner,” Saffron said.

“He went to the doctor and was told he had indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.”

According to the NHS, symptoms of bowel cancer can 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.

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