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Bodmin woman thought cancer symptoms were down to student lifestyle

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: September 19, 2013

  • Sam Smith thought cancer symptoms were down to student lifestyle

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A YOUNG Bodmin woman has revealed how she thought the symptoms of her cancer were down to her life as a student.

Sam Smith was 19 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in August of 2012.

Her main symptoms were unusual tiredness, persistent itching and a lump on her collarbone.

Sam, now 20, of Clifden Terrace, had just finished her first year studying sports psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University's Cheshire campus when she was told the news.

"I thought my symptoms were purely down to being a student for a year," she said.

"I went to the doctors and they sent me off for some tests, and kept mentioning lymphoma and I thought, 'Well, that sounds like eczema, so maybe it's something to do with my skin or my glands and I'll get a cream or antibiotics or something and I'll be fine'."

Sam was then stunned when doctors told her the bad news.

"At the end of August last year they said 'you've got lymphoma – don't worry it's Hodgkin's lymphoma. It's a good kind of cancer to have'. I thought – cancer? What are you on about? I just didn't understand, it didn't really hit me.

"Then, within a week, I was starting the whole process of chemotherapy. I was overwhelmed but I knew I had to fight."

Due to her treatment Sam, a keen hockey player, had to drop out of university and give up playing sport. She moved down to Cornwall from Merseyside in July to be with her partner and is unsure where life will lead her next.

"I may go back to studying in the future but for now I'm just going to try and fully recover, look for work and then maybe get back into sport," she said. "I may even pursue a different career path, who knows."

Sam was told in May that she is now in remission, and is desperate to raise awareness of the condition.

Figures show Hodgkin's lymphoma is the most common cancer in the under-30s and affects more young adults than any other form – with around 850 young people diagnosed in the UK each year.

Lymphoma often responds well to treatment and in many cases it can even be cured. But with studies in recent years showing that more than a third of people under the age of 30 were not aware that lymphoma is a form of cancer, The Lymphoma Association aimed to use last week's Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week to get young people talking about the disease.

It is estimated that approximately 75,000 people in the UK are currently living with the disease and the incidence of lymphoma is increasing year on year, although there is no explanation for this.

The most common symptom of lymphoma is a painless lump or swelling, often in the neck, armpit or groin. Other common symptoms include excessive sweating (especially at night), fevers, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, a cough or breathlessness and persistent itching.

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