'I want people to have the guts to visit their GP': Northampton leukaemia patient on finding community after diagnosis

A Northampton leukaemia patient is urging people to get themselves checked if they think they might be showing abnormal symptoms.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 4:05 pm
Hannah pictured after treatment. Credit: Insight Magazine.

In November 2018 Hannah Mahoney thought she had gum disease after showing symptoms of breathlessness, bleeding gums and a sore throat.

But in the week leading up to Hannah's admission to hospital her symptoms changed rapidly.

After waking up with excruciating groin pain in the middle of the night she researched her symptoms online.

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Hannah suffered bruising due to low platelets in her blood and an arterial line being inserted.

Medics squeezed Hannah into an emergency appointment the next day and test results later told her after a blood test that she was experiencing abnormal blood clotting.

Hannah started seeing warning signs when she counted about 30 bruises all over her body.

She said: "I had a voicemail from the hospital regarding abnormal blood results...I fell to the floor.

"I needed more tests and would need an overnight bag. Before I knew it I was in out of hours at Northampton General Hospital, on my own."

Hannah is living life to the full following her treatment and is back to horse riding.

Two weeks later, Hannah was told she Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia, which happened as a result of her white blood cells not developing properly and, in turn, blood clots did pose a risk to life.

She said: "For cancer patients, hospital becomes our home, and the ward team become our family.

"Still, when you receive a diagnosis you can feel so alone and isolated. There was no guide book on how to deal with cancer, and I needed the answers to my many questions.

"So I turned to Google again and social media."

Social media has since helped Hannah build a community through treatment and recovery.

She said: "There’s a massive cancer community, but it’s like Hogwarts, nobody knows it’s there until you get the letter to say you're in.

"They offered me and continue to offer valuable hints and tips, and all of the encouragement humanly possible.

"I want to reduce ignorance, increase understanding, and change behaviours and attitudes. I want people to take responsibility for their body and have guts to visit their GP.

"Seeing others sharing their stories and what they are going through inspired me to share mine.

"Social media has allowed me to raise awareness of blood cancer, coping with cancer, and the importance of giving blood. If I can help one person, I will feel like I have achieved something. And, I know I’ve done just that – it’s a good feeling."

Hannah, who spoke to Insight Magazine, is now living life to the full following her treatment and is back to horse riding.

Symptoms of acute leukaemia can include:

looking pale or washed out

feeling tired or weak

breathlessness

frequent infections

mouth ulcers

unusual and frequent bruising or bleeding, such as bleeding gums or nosebleeds

losing weight without trying to

Speak to a GP if you or your child have symptoms of acute leukaemia. For more information on leukaemia visit the NHS website or Leukeamia Care.