A WOMAN who put her sore throat and swallowing issues down to tonsillitis was shocked to discover she had a rare blood cancer – at just 24.
Georgina Masson, 24, dismissed her swallowing problems as an infection after having had tonsillitis several times before.
But after a course of antibiotics she continued to struggle to swallow and could hardly open her mouth.
She was admitted to East Surrey Hospital where doctors ran tests to find out what was wrong.
In August 2021 she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (APML) after a week in hospital.
Georgina, who had lost her dad, Paul, 54, to cancer when she was 15 was shocked by the news and was rushed to start treatment the next day.
Now nearing the end of her eight cycles of chemotherapy, she is thankful she was able to catch the disease early.
Georgina, who worked as an admin worker, from Horsham, West Sussex, said: “I felt so numb when they told me I had cancer.
“I just thought I had tonsillitis – I had no idea it was so much more serious than that.
“I had to start treatment straight away. It was terrifying – especially after losing my dad when I was 15.
“I never expected to get cancer at 24 I really thought I had a sore throat but it turned out to be much worse.”
In July 2021 Georgina started to notice she had lost some weight, but didn’t think anything of it as she was happy to shift some pounds for summer.
But worryingly, she was also finding her gums would bleed easily and she’d bruise quickly.
“I’d never had nose bleeds or anything but suddenly I was getting them,” Georgina said.
“I just though the bruises were down to my clumsiness.”
After thinking she had tonsillitis in July 2021, she was given antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Yet after a few weeks she still couldn’t swallow and could hardly open my mouth, citing that the drugs she’d been prescribed were not working.
I never expected cancer at 24,
Georgina was later admitted to East Surrey Hospital by her GP and they ran more tests to see what it could be.
“I start to get an awful red rash all over my body,” she said.
“Doctors thought it could have been a reaction to the antibiotics but they didn’t go away when I came off them.”
Eventually, after a bone marrow biopsy, doctors were able to diagnose Georgina with acute myeloid leukaemia in August 2021.
“I didn’t really acknowledge what they had said,” she recalled.
“My mum, Elizabeth was more upset but I just felt numb.”
The signs of leukaemia
Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. There are a number of different types of leukaemia.
It typically can cause:
- Weakness and tiredness
- More frequent infections
- Bleeding and bruising
- Blood spots or rashes on the skin
- Heavy periods
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Achey joints and bones
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A lump in the upper left-hand side of the tummy, caused by an enlarged spleen
Georgina was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital where she was referred to start treatment one day after receiving the awful news.
“At first they told me I had the AML strain which is not as rare so they said I could go home and start chemotherapy in a week,” she said.
“But on the way home they called to say they looked into it further and needed me to start that night.
“I had only been told I had cancer the day before and suddenly I was starting chemo. It was all so fast.”
Georgina started her treatment in August 2021 and had since undergone seven cycles of chemotherapy.
“It has been really hard,” she said.
“I’ve suffered really bad headaches from it to the point of having to sit in a completely dark room with an eye mask on.
“But recent results show that I’m almost in complete molecular remission. I’m feeling more positive now that I’m getting through this.
“But there were points where I thought I was going to die. I’m just so lucky I got it early.”
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