Worried you have cancer but not calling your GP because of Coronavirus?
Read Margaret from Billingham’s story about how she battled Covid-19 at the same time as being diagnosed and treated for cancer during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Margaret is 73 years old and lives with her husband in Billingham. Margaret who describes herself as always being fit and healthy began to feel pains in her back and shoulders in December 2018. This is where Margaret’s story starts.
“I started to have terrible pains in my back and shoulders. I went to see my doctor who advised me to give it a few weeks, take some painkillers and see if it would go away itself. I went back a few weeks later as there had been no change, in fact the pain had started to effect other parts of my body as well, I knew something wasn’t right.
“I was sent for a chest x-ray which came back negative, I was sent for physiotherapy, I tried every medication in the chemist, heat treatment, nothing made a difference and this went on for about a year. I felt that because of my age the pain was being put down to wear and tear, a general deterioration due to getting old but I had always been fit and healthy, I never went to the doctors before this.
“Eventually in January this year (2020) I was back at the doctor’s again and they said they would send me for a scan at Hartlepool Hospital. It was after this I received phone call to say something had come up on my scan. I also had an echogram which is a scan used to look at the heart and nearby blood vessels. It’s a type of ultrasound scan.
“They told me straight away I had Myeloma which is a blood cancer that had affected my bone marrow. A week later I was told I also had Amyloidosis which was affecting my heart. It is a rare, serious condition. To be told I had both of these within a week was brutal and completely out of the blue. I started chemotherapy but in March I had to go into North Tees Hospital with Coronavirus.
“It has taken me over six weeks since leaving hospital to be able to even walk around the house and I had to stop my chemotherapy for two months which was a blow. The next steps for me are to get on with my treatment and stay as positive as I can. It is ups and downs at the moment but I have bounced back and it is onwards and upwards.
“My message to people sitting at home worried they have a symptom that they think might be cancer is don’t put it off, don’t be afraid, call your GP and keep going until you get the reassurance you need. I know it is difficult to diagnose some cancers more than others but I wish I had gone back to see my GP sooner when my persistent pain wouldn’t go away. I didn’t want to bother the doctor but that is the wrong thing to do. Don’t be frightened, don’t put it off, ring your GP.