Being diagnosed with cancer is a horrible time that nobody wants to go through, let alone share on social media.
However, a Liverpool woman decided to document her battle on TikTok, hoping to spread awareness and make other people with the disease feel less alone.
April Grierson, from Belle-Vale, was just 20-years-old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in November, last year.
A rare form of blood cancer, Hodgkin Lymphoma affects your lymph nodes and lymphatic system.
Sharing the story of her diagnosis, Ms Grierson said: “As soon as they said that my boyfriend could come into the hospital – which wasn’t allowed at the time due to Covid – I knew it was bad news.”
Ms Grierson underwent IVF egg retrieval at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, before starting chemotherapy which could affect her future fertility and unfortunately had to stay in hospital for two weeks after experiencing OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) which is a rare side effect of fertility treatment and caused fluid to collect on her lungs.
She said: “It was quite a rocky journey before even beginning my chemotherapy treatment but I was determined to stay positive which I think definitely helped. I knew my own strength and knew I could get through it.”
“When I first started documenting my journey online, I never expected to receive the response I did. I got about five million views and thousands of likes for my first video – I had to turn all my notifications off as I couldn’t keep up! It was strange but nice in a way to be able to share my experience and hopefully help other people going through similar.”
Ms Grierson was diagnosed with Hodgskin Lymphoma in November 2021.
Her initial symptoms were itchy skin and unexplained bruising, followed by a suspicious lump in her neck.
After scans and biopsies, she recieved the devastating news that she had cancer and began treatment at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
Ms Grierson began losing her hair after her second chemotherapy session but was given the amazing news that her cancer was gone after four sessions.
She continued treatment and completed all 12 sessions and rang the bell in July this year.
The amazing woman also graduated from university and ran the Race for Life. She is now working as a make-up artist.
Why is awareness so important?
New research by Blood Cancer UK has found that more than half of UK adults can’t name a single symptom of blood cancer, despite it being the third most deadly cancer in the UK.
Of the 2,230 UK adults polled by YouGov, 55% said that they did not know any of the common signs of blood cancer which include; fatigue, bruising, swollen lymph nodes and night sweats.
Even more worrying is that 25% of those surveyed said that it would be somewhat or extremely unlikely that they would consult with their GP if they had any of these symptoms.
Dr Michael Gregory, Regional Medical Director of NHS England – North West said: “Being aware of the signs and symptoms of blood cancer, and being diagnosed early can make all the difference.
“If you have persistent symptoms, including breathlessness, a fever, tiredness, unexplained bruising, swollen lymph nodes or night sweats, it’s so important that you see your GP as soon as possible.
“It will probably be nothing to worry about, but if it is blood cancer, catching it early increases the chance of survival.”
What are the symptoms of blood cancer?
There are many types of blood cancer, including Leukaemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma – and one in 19 people will be diagnosed with blood cancer at some point in their lives.
- weight loss that’s unexplained
- bruising or bleeding that’s unexplained
- lumps or swellings
- shortness of breath (breathlessness)
- drenching night sweats
- infections that are persistent, recurrent or severe
- fever (37.5°C or above) that is unexplained
- rash or itchy skin that’s unexplained
- pain in your bones, joints or abdomen (stomach area)
- tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep (fatigue)
- paleness (pallor) – the skin under your lower eyelid looks white rather than pink.