Kate G
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Diary of a "Fake" Cancer Patient - Taking a PITStop

Kate G
Posted by
15 Sep 2014

Have you ever felt so tired that you went to bed knowing that when you woke up you would feel worse than you did the night before? Do you ever get up & have to sit straight back down because that one movement saps your energy levels so much? Do your bones sometimes feel like they are made of lead & it aches to move even one muscle. Do you ever shut your eyes & the room spins just because you are that tired?

For myself & other cancer patients on watch & wait, exhaustion can be a daily reality. Many patients on watch & wait experience high levels of stress, & depression, both of which are associated with trying to get a handle on our condition. Once you start to take into account the physical impact of the multiplication of cancer cells in our bodies depleting healthy cells, it’s not hard to understand why some of us, who are not yet having treatment, feel like we fight a daily battle to live our lives, unable to just “do” what we used to be able to do.

My own battle with fatigue started at the age of 19 when I had glandular fever quite badly, & then at 22 I developed post-viral fatigue after flu. I realised something wasn’t right when literally all I did was get up, go to work, come home & go to sleep & this was a pattern that continued on & off throughout my 20s & 30s when I had intervals where I functioned perfectly normally, & others when all I wanted to do was sleep. By the time I was 36 & had a young baby, I just assumed that all full-time working parents felt as I did & that I just had to “get on” with it. I’ve talked before about feeling vindicated when I was diagnosed because in some respects it accounted for how I had been feeling for many years & that I could finally put a name to my symptoms.

Being tired all the time sent me back & forth to the Doctors for years, was incredibly frustrating for both others & myself & has played a fairly significant part in my feeling isolated & almost “tied” to the house for a very long time. It’s not that I don’t want to go out in the evenings, it’s just that I never know how I’m going to feel & I really do pay for a late night for days afterwards so generally I refuse invitations, or always drive so that I can go home when I want to. I also tend not to plan theatre or cinema trips where the main event starts after 7pm because there is nothing worse than sitting in a cinema/theatre & willing the play or film to finish because I just want to get home & go to bed. Not sure which one came first – tiredness, or depression, depression or tiredness but they both exacerbate each other ….

I’m really lucky in work in that I have very sympathetic managers who make allowances for my condition & for the fact that I have days occasionally where I am so exhausted that I cannot get out of bed & on those days I just have to listen to my body & sleep. When I have time off I have many “dates” with the sofa & I’m certainly not as active as I used to be. I generally go up to bed at the same time as my 11 year old son & my lights are always off before his but if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be able to function on a day to day basis let alone work.

In recent years, the PITS campaign was targeted specifically at university students so that they became more aware of symptoms that they could attribute to “wear & tear.” Persistent Lumps, Itching, Tiredness & Sweating are all easily explained away through the average student lifestyle - lack of healthy eating, not getting enough sleep, glandular fever (very common in students – that’s how I got it after all!), allergies to “cheaper” products (what student doesn’t try & save money on the necessities?) & don’t get me started on the sweating! It’s worth remembering that lymphoma is not that easy to diagnose & I have blogged previously about not connecting the symptoms I had experienced prior to my own diagnosis. If caught early enough, many lymphomas are curable but most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage like me & unfortunately we have to “live” as best we can with our condition - so it’s definitely worth knowing about the early warning signs! Sometimes, everyone needs to take a PITStop …



Kate thank you so much for sharing this!

As you say many of the signs and symptoms of blood cancer can too easily be dismissed or ignored on the grounds that it's just this or it's just that on account of the ridiculously busy lives that we lead.

Raising awareness about the signs and symptoms is important and whilst in the majority of cases it probably isn't anything untoward I really think it's important that people pay more attention to their bodies and get themselves checked out a little bit more often.

For the charity, it's a fine line between raising awareness and scare-mongering but this is extremely useful information and we'd love to share it on social media if that's ok with you?

On a personal level I always relate with your blogs in some capacity - I too had suspected glandular fever and constantly was feeling exhausted prior to my diagnosis and it wasn't until I was diagnosed that everything fitted in to place. I shouldn't have ignored for so long what in hindsight were clear indicators that something wasn't right.

Thanks again for another great blog. Together we will beat blood cancer.


i am feelin really frustrated, as if all of this is in my head, ive been feelin really tired for over 2 year now, after several visits to the gp he finally done a blood test to check my iron levels, it came back that i was aneamic, ive been gettin iron transfusions for the past 18 mth, but i feel awful, im so tired, im itchy all over and now my ankles av started to swell up, i keep gettin burnin feelin all over my body and av a pain in top half of my back at the side all the time, no body is listenin to me what can i do.


Hi Kate,

Thank you for your honest blog. I was informed by phone that I had leukaemia and would have to wait up to 6 weeks for any further investigation. I paid to see a private specialist and then transferred back to NHS. I finally received a confirmed diagnoses 14 weeks after the initial phone call of lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma B cell and put on the wait and watch programme. I didn't know about the itching. I have a re-occurring itch on my left shoulder blade with no outer signs of irritation and hadn't connected the two.

I look forward to continue reading your blog - isolation and the feeling I should just get on with it is very difficult.

Thank you for helping me see that it is ok to be concerned and distressed.