A TEENAGER who devoted too much of his fatigue to partying abroad was soon dealt a devastating blow.
Tom Hunt was 18 when he and his friends went on a trip to Europe after A-levels in 2018.
He told the Manchester Evening News: “From July that year I’d been feeling tired when I went to work, but I’d just finished my high school and it wasn’t anything you wouldn’t normally rule out.
“I went with my colleagues and we were interrailing around Europe.
“In Budapest, I started to feel quite sick, but I thought I should stop drinking and get some more sleep, but in Prague I was ridiculously sick.
“I usually sleep about seven or eight hours and I was sleeping 18 hours. I knew something was wrong.
“I was struggling to eat anything because my throat was so sore.”
Tom, from Hale, was feeling extremely tired despite sleeping more than usual.
Her lymph nodes (glands) in her neck were swollen, suggesting she was fighting an infection.
So Tom booked an early flight home and booked to see his GP, also his friend’s father, the next day.
The GP said it appeared to be a throat infection and prescribed antibiotics.
But there was another symptom that set off alarm bells.
Tom said: “I had crossed my legs while on the train asleep for about three hours and had a huge lump.”
Tom mentioned the lump to a surgeon he and his mother ran into, and he was told to seek medical help immediately.
“So I emailed the doctor again on Tuesday night around 11 o’clock and he emailed me straight back and said come back in tomorrow I’m free at 11 see me then,” said Tom.
At the GP’s surgery, Tom said he was feeling better and had a bit of an appetite back.
But the doctor said he “didn’t look good” and was “very pale”, so he decided to have some blood tests.
Blood tests confirmed that Tom had glandular fever; but that something more sinister could happen.
The doctor called to tell Tom that he urgently needed two blood transfusions and to go to Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he was given several tests.
Tom was admitted on Wednesday night and on Friday he finally got some answers.
He was told he had leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells of which there are many types.
With Tom’s type, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is rare. Around 790 people are diagnosed in the UK each year.
It causes the bone marrow to release white blood cells before they are fully mature, meaning they are not as effective.
This makes a person more vulnerable to infection, with some of the key signs including repeated infections over a short period of time, and probably why Tom had glandular fever.
The number of red blood cells and platelets may also decrease in response to the extra white blood cells, causing tiredness, pale skin, nosebleeds, high temperature, night sweats, skin that bruises easily, and a purple rash.
Tom was taken to the Christie Hospital in south Manchester, where he stayed for a month in intensive care.
Between then and April 2019, Tom received chemotherapy and had to undergo several platelet transfusions.
But he said he has been in “morphological remission” since October/November 2018.
The youngster, now 22, felt ready to go to college this year.
Having been diagnosed with cancer just a week after experiencing symptoms, Tom is now encouraging others to get checked as soon as possible if something doesn’t feel right.
What are the symptoms of leukemia?
The symptoms of leukemia vary, depending on the type of leukemia.
The Mayo Clinic says common signs and symptoms of leukemia include:
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Lose weight without trying
- swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Small red spots on the skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
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