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Woman diagnosed with blood cancer reveals two warning signs


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A blood most cancers affected person who had holes in her backbone was initially misdiagnosed because of ‘being a busy mum’.

Mum-of-three Donna Hicks, 49, went to her GP complaining of fixed fatigue and again ache when her youngest baby was one.

She was finally recognized with myeloma – an incurable type of blood most cancers – aged 41, in September 2014.

Donna, from Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, had two sons aged 9 and 7 in addition to her toddler daughter, and had simply misplaced her mum when she was recognized.

She had to surrender her job as a social work supervisor, a call she discovered devastating.

Donna mentioned: “I had this continual fatigue that I couldn’t shake.

“It wouldn’t elevate and I had actually unhealthy again ache that had consistently been put all the way down to having infants.

“I finally went to the GP as a result of it was getting me down and the fatigue was actually impacting my life.

“The GP was very dismissive. He checked out his watch a few occasions and finally mentioned, ‘You’re over 40, you’re employed full-time, you’ve received three youngsters together with a child and also you’re questioning why you’re drained?’, and principally despatched me packing.

“I sat within the automotive within the automotive park crying for ages as a result of I knew one thing was not proper.

“I didn’t really feel like myself and it was getting worse. It was terrible.”

(Donna Hicks / SWNS)

Myeloma is the third most typical type of blood most cancers – affecting round 2,000 Scots – however greater than half of sufferers wait over 5 months for a analysis and round a 3rd of instances are solely picked up at a late stage in A&E.

Frequent signs together with again ache, simply damaged bones, fatigue and recurring infections are sometimes mistaken for ageing or different minor situations.

Whereas incurable, most myeloma sufferers can reply to remedy to increase their life if the illness is picked up in time.

Donna noticed one other GP who suspected one thing was severely unsuitable and ordered a blood check.

The myeloma analysis got here a fortnight after Donna’s mum found she had lung most cancers, and died 10 weeks later.

Donna mentioned: “I used to be caught on this scenario of getting a very younger household and having misplaced my mum.

“I simply felt actually determined. It was actually tough to see past that place of darkness to start with as a result of I used to be so frightened.

“I simply felt that life as I knew it had stopped. My job was actually necessary to me. It was rather more than a only a job to me. It’s the lack of id.”

I simply felt that life as I knew it had stopped

Donna was referred by her guide on the Vale of Leven hospital for what was initially anticipated to be a “one-off appointment” with Dr Richard Soutar, an knowledgeable in myeloma based mostly on the Beatson in Glasgow.

She has remained below his care ever since.

She mentioned: “I keep in mind that first evening after seeing Dr Soutar, saying to my husband, ‘I’m completely going to be right here in 10 years’.”

Donna underwent radiotherapy to heal the fractures in her backbone, adopted by chemotherapy and two life-saving stem cell transplants in 2020 and 2021.

She is now in what is called a “good partial remission” from the illness, and has nothing however reward for her remedy on the Beatson.

She mentioned: “I’ve lots of respect for Dr Soutar. He’s very upfront and he’s additionally extraordinarily caring.

“It’s so pretty to really feel such as you’ve received a relationship like that together with your physician.

“I really feel very lucky that on the Beatson there’s a group that is aware of all the pieces there’s to learn about myeloma.

“I do know that there are many sufferers with myeloma who don’t ever actually see anyone who’s a specialist in that space.

“The truth is that some individuals aren’t fortunate with myeloma and it’s very unpredictable and regardless of greatest efforts and the perfect mentality you’ve gotten round it, it could nonetheless by no means be sufficient, however I’m nonetheless right here eight years later.

“Life is rarely going to be the identical once more, there’s little doubt about that. The best way I see it’s there’s a volcano inside me.

“In the meanwhile it’s dormant however sooner or later sooner or later it’s most likely going to erupt once more.

“However whereas it’s dormant I’m going to get on with issues and do as a lot as I probably can.”

Donna is sharing her personal expertise as charity Myeloma UK prepares to the current the Beatson group with its Medical Service Excellence Programme (CSEP) Award for a second time tomorrow.

The accolade recognises hospitals that go above and past to offer compassionate care.

Monica Morris, of Myeloma UK, mentioned: “We had been extraordinarily impressed by the Beatson’s willingness to adapt to sufferers’ wants.

“The group really goes the additional mile to grasp sufferers and assist them after they’re at their most susceptible.

“For instance, when wanted, sufferers can see a specialist pharmacist for ache administration as a part of their common appointment, saving them from exhausting and, within the wake of the cost-of-living disaster, probably costly backwards and forwards journeys to a separate ache clinic.”

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