Patient with no stomach runs London marathon

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) patient, Karen Nice, from Norwich, is celebrating completing the London marathon after having her stomach removed.

Karen, 38, opted for a preventative stomach removal (gastrectomy) after being diagnosed with a faulty gene which put her at 80% risk of developing stomach cancer. Karen’s mother and aunt died from stomach cancer, and her uncle had bowel cancer so from a relatively young age she thought there may be some sort of genetic link. After visiting their GP’s, Karen and other family members were tested and diagnosed with a gene which put them at significant risk of developing cancer of the stomach.

Karen initially saw Gastroenterologist Richard Tighe at NNUH for screening but could not be guaranteed any cancerous cells could be picked up early enough. After careful consideration she opted to have surgery in 2004 which was performed by Mr Lewis.

Karen said: “Mr Lewis basically re-plumbed me and made me a small pouch out of my intestine to act as my stomach. Normally people have a stomach the size of a melon, but mine is like an orange! I lost about three stone after the operation and putting weight on was hard, especially running around after three young children! I’d always liked running and finally got a place in the London marathon after several attempts. The nutrition side of training was pretty hard because I can’t eat large meals and so I had to eat little and often and very slowly. But it was all worth it, marathon day was fantastic and I’ve managed to raise over £2000 for Help for Hospices.”

Mr Michael Lewis, consultant surgeon at NNUH said: “Karen’s condition is rare; there are only a few people in the region who’ve had this surgery. For Karen it was the right option, as when her stomach was analysed after the operation there were already small areas of cancer dotted all over it. She’s done fantastically well to adapt to having the smaller pouch and the fact she managed to run a marathon in under five hours is truly exceptional.”

You can still sponsor Karen by visiting and you can read more about Karen on her blog  

Thursday 2nd of May 2013 10:00:58 AM