Jennifer's Story - how Barrett's has made a difference

Name: Jennifer Bushell

Age: 34

Lives: Stafford

Diagnosis: Barrett's oesophagus 

For a period of about 2 years I suffered with a chronic sore throat, at first I thought it was normal because I was tired or run down from the stress of running our business. Whilst I was pregnant with my daughter I gained a considerable amount of weight and didn't once suffer with acid reflux which a lot of the other Mum's I would meet did, I thought I was one of the lucky ones.  

One day my throat was so sore and I was feeling so fed up with it I decided to have a look in a mirror and I noticed it was very swollen and ulcered. I went to my GP over a course of a year and got given a few courses of antibiotics until eventually a Prescribing Nurse decided it was probably caused by acid reflux and he referred me for an urgent endoscopy. It was then I was diagnosed with inflammation of the oesophagus, a sliding hiatus hernia and a small spectrum of Barrett's oesophagus. It was such a big shock because I had never suffered with heart burn or indigestion which I felt was the typical symptoms of reflux. I was also diagnosed with silent reflux and Laryngopharyngeal reflux. 

As I lay in the bed after my diagnosis I clearly remember that the pizza I so wanted to indulge in as a reward after my procedure would not be happening! Having lost my dear Father to cancer when I was 18, I felt at the young age of 33 I was heading into the same direction.  

Although Barrett's oesophagus will live with me forever, I really believe in some ways it has saved my life and I will remain positive it will never progress. Since my diagnosis almost a year ago now I have completely transformed my lifestyle, I have lost a lot of weight and feel the best I have ever felt. My diet is very healthy and I now enjoy exercise, so much so I have decided on a career change so that I can help other people transform their lives too. Occasionally I do relapse and suffer with a sore throat but not very often and on the whole I feel my lifestyle and medication are controlling the symptoms very well. 

Association with HCUK:

I came across this wonderful charity within my first 6 months and they very kindly gave me advice and support which I feel is so valuable when you are diagnosed with something like Barrett's oesophagus, I feel they make up for the lack of support within the healthcare system in my area.