Lifestyle

I was told by doctors not to worry about my itchy skin – now at 22 I’m fighting for my life

A WOMAN who suffered from itchy skin claims doctors told her not to worry – but now she’s fighting for her life at just 22.

Rebecca Dennis, from London, was reassured that people with their symptoms were doing fine most of the time.

Rebecca Dennis found out at the age of 22 that she was suffering from a life-threatening illness

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Rebecca Dennis found out at the age of 22 that she was suffering from a life-threatening illnessCredit: Jam Press/Rebecca Dennis
Rebecca's condition began with a rash, fatigue and a lump on her neck, pictured

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Rebecca’s condition began with a rash, fatigue and a lump on her neck, picturedCredit: Jam Press/Rebecca Dennis

She suffered from itchy skin and felt tired.

But it was a lump in her neck, discovered in April this year, that prompted her to seek help.

After Rebecca consulted her dentist about the mass, he referred her to London’s Kings College Hospital for a check-up.

She was seen in hospital in May and said: “The hematologist at Kings College Hospital that I saw said it was probably nothing and 98 per cent of the patients she saw who had the same symptoms as me turned out to be in order. ”

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The consultant who monitored Rebecca’s ultrasound was more concerned and took a biopsy of the lump.

The results came back as “slightly suspicious” and another biopsy was taken.

A week later, on June 15, Rebecca’s results showed she had cancer.

She was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare T-cell lymphoma cancer.

Fewer than 200 people in the UK are diagnosed in the UK each year.

Rebecca, an aspiring political analyst, said: “When I first heard the words ‘it’s cancer’ everything went quiet for me.

“The doctor kept talking to explain the type of lymphoma I had, but I couldn’t really hear what she was saying, I was so shocked.

“As soon as I could, I just asked her if it was curable, and when she said yes, I knew it meant I had to get chemo.”

According to Lymphoma Action, most people are diagnosed with ALCL at an advanced stage, but Rebecca says she was caught “early”.

Since her diagnosis, Rebecca has been told she will have to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Rebecca is currently on her first cycle of chemo which started on July 21st.

She says the treatment left her feeling “very weak and nauseous.”

“I don’t want to lose my hair and look sick, I don’t want loved ones or strangers to look at me and feel sorry for me,” Rebecca said.

“I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my hair is going to fall out very soon and what that will mean for me.

“It was tough for my parents – I don’t think anyone ever expects to have to support their child through cancer treatment.

“They were both great and helped me with everything I needed. My mother has basically become my caregiver.

“My friend Michael, 25, and his family have also been incredibly supportive and have offered whatever I need to get help.

“It’s especially important for me to be able to rely on him as he’s someone I can talk to about anything, any time of the day or night.”

Because the cancer was caught early, Rebecca was able to have surgery to save her eggs before chemo left her infertile.

Though she’s having a hard time coming to terms with the diagnosis, Rebecca says she’s grateful for all the support she’s received.

She said: “Emotionally, it was really hard to understand the fact that I’m 22 and I have cancer.

“I don’t think it’s fair and I wonder what I did to deserve it. But really I think I have to be thankful for the little things.

“I am grateful that it was recognized so early, that I have an amazing support system around me and that I am being treated in a hospital like the Royal Marsden.

“I’ve always struggled with my mental health and that was obviously a huge blow to me. But I find that talking about things and being honest is so powerful.”

Rebecca is now sharing her diagnosis to raise awareness about lump screening.

She said: “I want to tell young people how important it is to examine your body.

“I know it can be easy to put things off and just see if they go away.

“Sometimes doctors can make you feel like you’re overreacting and tell you to wait and see.

“But at the end of the day you know your body, you’re the one who has to live in it every day.

“If something doesn’t feel right, push for tests and answers. Your health is at stake, not theirs.”

Rebecca wants young people to be aware of cancer symptoms

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Rebecca wants young people to be aware of cancer symptomsCredit: Jam Press/Rebecca Dennis
The aspiring political analyst has started chemotherapy for her cancer

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The aspiring political analyst has started chemotherapy for her cancerCredit: Jam Press/Rebecca Dennis
Rebecca said: "My boyfriend, Michael, 25, and his family have also been incredibly supportive and have offered whatever I need to get help"

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Rebecca said: “My friend Michael, 25, and his family have also been incredibly supportive and have offered everything I need to get help.”Credit: Jam Press/Rebecca Dennis

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5962686/itchy-skin-fighting-for-life-22-cancer/ I was told by doctors not to worry about my itchy skin – now at 22 I’m fighting for my life

Sarah Y. Kim

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