Chronicle reporter Rachel Flint told viewers of BBC Breakfast how she could have died if her diagnosis of Crohn's Disease had come too late in the day.

Rachel featured in a slot highlighting a four fold increase in the number of young people admitted to hospital with the inflammatory bowel condition over the past decade.

Rachel, who lives in Chester, explained how she was diagnosed at just 13-years-old, in the nick of time, after keeping her symptoms secret for months due to embarrassment.

Chester Chronicle reporter Rachel Flint appears on BBC Breakfast
Chester Chronicle reporter Rachel Flint appears on BBC Breakfast

“I'd put up with it for a year, it was absolutely horrendous. I was so embarrassed by the symptoms, constant diarrhoea, rushing to the toilet, in and out of the classrooms, because I was at school, losing blood, I lost loads and loads of weight and I kept it to myself because I was so embarrassed by the symptoms.

“I was going on holiday with my family. We were in a service station and I was in the toilet.

“On the back of the toilet door was the list of symptoms for bowel cancer and at that moment, I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my God, I've got cancer’. I went outside and told my parents and the process of me being diagnosed started then.”

Presenter Louise Minchin, who also lives in Chester, put it to Rachel that her doctors said she could have died.

Rachel responded: “I'd lost so much weight, I was so ill and if I'd left it a couple of more months or even more weeks that could have been it.”

Rachel, who suffers from both Crohn's and colitis, explained the chronic fatigue that also accompanied the condition.

“It's almost deep within your bones, you just feel so exhausted all the time," she said.

When Rachel's condition stopped responding to medication she made the tough decision to have two major operations to remove her entire bowel which means she now has an ostomy bag. For her it was the right choice.

“I've never been so well. I now have a permanent ostomy bag, the hardest decision I ever made in my life, but a decision that had to be made. I would have done it years and years ago if I had known how well it would have made me.”

David Barker, chief executive of Crohn's and Colitis UK, who sat next to Rachel on the sofa, said more research was needed to understand the triggers which set off inflammatory bowel conditions whether it be environmental factors, diet or stress.

Talking about the rise in the number of cases, he told viewers: "We know there's been an increase and we value the opportunity to come and talk about it today.

“These are diseases that people don't talk about. They don't have the profile and awareness and understanding. There's 260,000 people with these conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, which also includes ulcerative colitis and it's worrying how many people have this disease.”

You can read more about how Rachel has coped with this condition in her blog Adventures of the Bag Lady.