A teenager who delayed going to the doctors for months due to the coronavirus lockdown has been diagnosed with stage-four cancer.
Paige Heeland, 19, from Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, faces a gruelling six-month course of chemotherapy after a biopsy discovered her Hodgkin lymphoma.
The nursery worker first discovered a small lump in the right side of her neck in January and initially ‘didn’t think anything of it’. But by March it had grown to the size of a 10p coin.
During a brief telephone appointment doctors told Paige to keep an eye on it – but when she finally saw a GP last month, she was sent for a biopsy and then given the crushing diagnosis.
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Paige is now urging others to go to the doctors as soon as they notice any changes in their body – something she wishes she had done sooner.
The teenager, who lives at home with her parents and younger sister, said: ‘I first noticed a little lump in January whilst lying in bed with my boyfriend, but it was so small that I didn’t think anything of it.
‘With coronavirus, I didn’t want to go to the doctors but when I did eventually make an appointment, it was a phone appointment so the lump couldn’t be properly examined.
‘It took six months for me to get a biopsy and I do wonder if it would have been different if I had been diagnosed sooner – it might not have progressed to stage four.
‘When I found out, I was with my mum and we just broke down. I’ve been told that it is treatable so I’m trying to stay positive but it’s really upsetting.
‘I’m currently in the process of having my eggs frozen as I’ve been warned that the chemotherapy may leave me infertile – I never expected to have to freeze my eggs at 19 years old.
‘I’ve had to leave my job and the chemotherapy is going to start soon; my whole world has been turned upside down.
‘I want to urge people to go to the doctors as soon as possible if they notice any changes in their body; even if you’re not worried about it, just go and be safe.
‘I should have been seen much quicker than I was but with coronavirus, all appointments are telephone appointments so it’s important to call as soon as you notice any changes.’
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