I’d been feeling unwell for a little while, going out with friends and drinking was making me feel ill. I was finishing my masters in 2019, then after I finished I went to Vietnam for my brothers wedding. On this holiday a pain started in my leg and my lower back, whenever I drank I felt ill (I used to love getting drunk and having a laugh). Anyway, we got back in September 2019 and I was working nearly full time at a nursery, whilst applying for jobs in my chosen sector. Christmas 2019 rolled around and I was in constant pain with my lower back, like absolute agony taking a whole packet of ibuprofen in 1.5 days. My partner was trying to get me to go to the doctors, but I was too scared. I started having night sweats, soaking sheets etc, I’ve always been like a hot person so I didn’t think anything of it. After this Jan 2020 came and I started going to physio as the pain was becoming unbearable. I applied for a job in my chosen sector back home (before uni) so we were going to move back.
Then in February I found two lumps in my neck and I instantly panicked, I went to my walk in centre who told me I needed a blood test and it looked as though I was Anaemic. I tried booking a blood test at my GP but due to COVID just kicking off, I couldn’t get an appointment until the 1st of April.
After these few weeks the pain in my lower back got considerably worse and I became bed bound, however due to covid I could get no help. I called 111, 999 due to the pain but they heard my partner coughing in the background so they told me they couldn’t do anything. At this point I was taking diazepam, tramadol, codeine, paracetamol and ibuprofen for the pain and nothing was touching it. Then on the 1st April 2020 I collapsed and partner forced me into hospital, it was absolutely bare no one was there. My partner wasn’t allowed to stay, and I proceeded to stay in hospital for a week. No one was allowed to visit and I went through everything alone, however the nurses and doctors were amazing.
I had x-rays the first day and they found shadows on my lungs, then more xrays, a biopsy, pints of blood taken (lol) and scans. When I released I was still in loads of pain, but now taking oramorph, then I had to go for an MRI and a PET scan.
On the 17th April, we found out the true extent. Stage 4 classical Hodgkins Lymphoma- cancer, and the pain I was in? That was due to a cancerous lymph node wrapping around a veterbrae in my spine and collapsing it and then collapsing 2 more.
So 3 collapsed veterbrae and stage 4 cancer. I was so not expecting it, neither were the doctors about my spine due to it being so rare and the cancer not going into the bone. The doctors told me we were lucky to catch it when we did, if not the cancer would have become too aggressive and they wouldn’t have been able to do anything.
After this I was permantly in a back brace as they had to focus on the cancer, I needed a wheelchair and my whole life changed. I had to quit my current job, quit the job I’d spent 4 years at uni working for that I was so excited to start and move back in with my mum, with my partner. Being diagnosed at 24 with this cancer and the broken back was so daunting, I was absolutely terrified but I knew I wouldn’t let this beat me and I needed to stay positive, positive mindset positive result. I did it, I beat stage 4 cancer.
My back is still a problem, I’m still in a wheelchair and my partner has to do a lot for me, hopefully next year I’ll have spinal surgery to realign my spine. I’ve lost 3 inches in height but I still have my life, I’m so grateful to the NHS and all the doctors and nurses who looked after me. As well as that, I actually didn’t know what Hodgkins Lymphoma was, I said I didn’t have any symptoms but I actually had them all, even the itching. However I’d never heard of this kind of cancer, I really think it needs more presence in today’s society. I’ve now been cancer free for a year, I just can’t believe it. I feel so incredibly blessed and lucky.Night Sweats Swollen Lymph Nodes