Beauty And The Beast
All her life, Codie had had something growing inside her...
Fading fast, I cuddled up to my boyfriend, determined to see the end of the movie. It was February last year, and my fella Charles, 24, had come over to my student flat in Southend for the evening to watch films.
Tuning into White Chicks, we were gripped – even though we should’ve been asleep hours before! Still, even if it was the middle of the night, we had to find out what happened.
Bracing myself for the next scene, I was suddenly taken by surprise.
‘Aaargh!’ I yelped, feeling a jolt of pain shudder through my abdomen.
‘Are you OK?’ asked Charles. ‘I think I must have indigestion,’ I spluttered, winded by the intense pain.
I’d experienced something similar but milder a month earlier, when I’d been at home with my family, and had put it down to eating a dodgy meal.
Now it was back, and the pain was on another level.
Try as I might to settle back into the movie, I was totally distracted by the horrible feeling between my breasts and upper stomach.
‘I’ve never felt anything like it,’ I moaned to Charles.
Soon, I was retching and crying, it was so bad.
‘You need to get checked out,’ said Charles, so we took a taxi to Southend Hospital’s A&E.
As we arrived, I was fretting that I had something really serious.
When the pain subsided slightly a few hours later, doctors prescribed antacid medication, and sent me home.
‘What a relief,’ I told Charles, having convinced myself I had something terrible, like cancer.
But, the next night, the pain returned, even worse.
Charles took me back to A&E where, this time, as well as having blood tests, I was given an ultrasound scan.
‘Oh my God, wow!’ said the sonographer.
What had he seen inside me?
Then a doctor came in.
‘We’ve found a large cyst between your liver and bowel duct,’ he said. ‘It’s around 5in long – the size of a 4-month-old foetus.’
The doctor explained it was a type 1 B choledochal cyst– a swelling, widening or dilation of the bile ducts. They’re extremely rare, affecting around one in 100,000 people.
More shocking still, I’d probably had it since birth!
Still, the most important news was that it wasn’t life-threatening.
‘I can’t believe you’ve been living with this thing inside you,’ said Charles, shocked.
When I phoned my mum Lai, 45, and dad Lup, 50, to tell them, they were horrified – and quickly came to hospital.
A large cyst... The size of a 4-monthold foetus
‘My poor love, you look so poorly,’ remarked Mum.
She was right. My struggling liver wasn’t cleaning my blood properly, resulting in jaundice.
Discharged three days later, I was referred to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where I was booked in for an op to remove the cyst two months later.
Really poorly, I had to stop uni and go back to live with my
family in Cambridgeshire.
During my 10-day hospital stay in April last year, I learned the medics are still mystified by what causes choledochal cysts, although one theory is that the bile duct doesn’t form properly during early pregnancy.
Told I’d never make a full recovery, seven months after diagnosis, my confidence was at rock bottom.
Then I saw an advert on social media for the Miss Cambridgeshire beauty pageant.
‘You have to enter,’ I squealed to my friend, Melissa, 21. ‘Only if you do, too,’ she said. But I’d lost two dress sizes since my illness, and was now a scrawny size-4, with an 8in scar across my stomach. Who’d vote for me? But Melissa persuaded me. And, sashaying down the catwalk in May, I felt like a million dollars!
To my total amazement, I came second!
‘Why are you surprised?’ asked Charles. ‘You’re the most beautiful woman I know!’
In June, I went on to win Miss Popularity England, and qualified for Miss England! It was held in July – and, although I wasn’t placed, it was a spectacular event.
Competing in pageants has given me a big confidence boost, and I’ve raised over £1,000 for Beauty With A Purpose.
I’m mostly fine now, although I do still have some bad days.
When I was ill, I could barely stand, let alone strut my stuff on the runway.
But now I look every inch a catwalk star!
Competing in pageants has given me a confidence boost
Recovering after the op My scar is 8in long
The scan shows my monster ‘guest’!
i felt like a million dollars!
With Mum, winning Miss Popularity