Kate G
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Diary of a "Fake" Cancer Patient - Random Symptoms

Kate G
Posted by
25 Jun 2014

Being on watch & wait brings many challenges, not the least of which is worrying about whether symptoms that I am experiencing are related to my lymphoma. For many years before diagnosis, I explained “away” various symptoms which individually did not seem worrisome but when you look at them collectively the picture is much clearer.

When I was pregnant, I had lots of skin itching & also suffered night sweats which continued after my son was born. The tiredness, I attributed to being a new mum, who was breastfeeding & having never had a baby before, I assumed that the night sweats were a way of my body getting rid of the excess fluid that I retained. I also developed a big lump in my armpit which my midwife said was most likely a blocked milk duct. When Dan was 15 weeks old & 3 days before Christmas, I suddenly developed huge bruises all over my body & a rash that did not disappear when pressed with a glass. We went to A&E because we were concerned that I had meningitis & were worried about our baby & were absolutely flabbergasted to be told that they thought I might have leukaemia! After a bone marrow biopsy came back negative we were told that it was most likely an idiopathic condition that can happen following a virus (I was extremely run-down) but that I had to remain in hospital until my platelet count started to rise again. I reacted badly to the meds given & developed a meningitis strength headache so spent Dan’s first Christmas Day in hospital.

Over the next 7 years, I was treated as a Haematology Outpatient with the length of time between checks varying from one week to up to 6 months, with one further stay in hospital when my platelets crashed again in 2008. At one clinical check, I picked up a leaflet about lymphoma & was quite surprised to realise that I had every symptom but even then I didn’t join the dots because my bloods weren’t showing anything. It really is that easy to miss things – I’ve struggled with fatigue for years but then again, what full-time working parent doesn’t? I developed a lump in my neck that went up & down in size but since I had glandular fever at 19, was used to my glands enlarging when I got a bit run-down so wasn’t particularly concerned about that.

I lost a stone & a half in 2 weeks when my marriage broke up in February 2010 & found a large lump in my groin which sent me back to my Doctor. In this instance I attributed that symptom (loss of more than 10% of body weight in a short space of time) to the stress of the end of my marriage so wasn’t especially worried initially, however my worries started to build when the lump got bigger & the other symptoms started to mount up. In my first blog, I said that in some respects it was almost a relief to be diagnosed since everything finally started to add up & I felt almost vindicated about the symptoms that I had experienced over the years.

Diagnosis of lymphoma is incredibly challenging because there are so many different types & sub-types, and so many of the symptoms are seemingly unrelated. Unless there is a lump to biopsy & if your bloods are not showing any abnormalities it isn't that easy to diagnose. I would like to see more done to raise awareness of symptoms so that people get themselves checked out sooner - I read somewhere that most lymphomas are diagnosed at Stage 3 or above which puts most into the "treatable but not curable" box. If more could be picked up at Stage 1 with isolated tumours, I like to think that more people could be completely cured.



Yet another fantastic blog, Kate. Thank you so much for sharing. I always find I can relate to much of what you write and this blog is no exception as I explained away all of my symptoms as something else and never once thought I might have leukaemia.

It's interesting it took the doctors so long to diagnose it though - I think this is something that lots of blood cancer patients have raised and something that should be looked at as clearly the more quickly blood cancer is detected, the better the chance the patient has of making a recovery.

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