I had no idea my mysterious bruises and 'low iron' was actually rare cancer

I had no idea my mysterious bruises and 'low iron' was actually rare cancer

11/18/2021

A MUM who thought her mysterious bruises were due to “low iron” was shocked to be told she had a rare cancer.

Emma Lynch, 24, said she is in disbelief at the diagnosis of leukemia and is now “fighting for her kids” – who she fears “leaving behind”. 

Emma was living what she described as a “great” life with her fiancé and their “four beautiful children” in Chryston, North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

She told Glasgow Live: “In the lead up to my diagnosis was I had been having bruising appearing randomly on my body. 

“I was experiencing tiredness and bleeding gums but what made me go to the doctors was that I had swollen feet and ankles which were painful and red.”

Emma also noticed bumps appearing on her legs and arms – but assumed it was down to having low iron.

Bumps and bruises are not a common symptom of the low iron, however it can leave someone feeling tired or weak – both general signs of cancer. 

Doctors diagnosed Emma with a skin infection called cellulitis – which makes the skin hot, swollen and painful – and put her on a course of antibiotics. 

But a week later it became clear to Emma that something was seriously wrong.

She had a temperature, was shivering and had a racing heartbeat, and so was rushed to hospital.

The doctors were concerned the young mum may have contracted sepsis so asked Emma to head to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

After hours of tests and speaking to doctors, Emma’s worst fears become a reality.

She said: “Another doctor came around and he had a serious expression on his face. I just knew something wasn’t right.”

Emma was diagnosed with acute myeloid (AML) – a type of leukaemia that occurs when the body makes too many immature white blood cells – on October 24.

She recalled: “When I was given the diagnosis I zoned out. It felt like I wasn’t even in the room, it was all just echoing and then I heard the doctor say ‘I’m really sorry but you have acute myeloid leukaemia’.

“I just let out a scream. I didn’t even cry I just screamed. I felt like I had been hit by a train.

“After coming round my first thought was I have to fight this for my kids. I have been fighting it for my kids every day since.”

AML is a rare type of cancer, with around 3,100 people diagnosed with it each year in the UK. 

It is mostly diagnosed in those over the age of 75, making Emma’s case even more unusual.

Younger people tend to recover much better than older people, with between 40 and 65 per cent of those under 65 surviving at least five years after diagnosis. 

There are various forms of AML. The one that causes fewer blood platelets than usual can show up as bruising, bleeding gums and nosebleeds.

Emma still had to tell her doting family the news which she says “wasn’t easy” and left her older children aged four and six “devastated”. 

Emma has started intensive chemotherapy treatment at Beatson, Glasgow, which is taking her away from her kids, including her one-year-old twins.

Being away from her loved ones is a “shock to the system”, she said.

Having cancer of the myeloid white blood cells means that Emma is not as strong to fight infections.

Because of this, her kids are not able to visit and can only video call her, always asking “when is mummy coming home?”. 

The mum has felt physically drained from the chemo, tired and sick.

She said: “Emotionally it has really affected me. My anxiety is at a high and I am feeling slightly depressed, lonely and sometimes in disbelief.

“I remain positive attitude. My only concern was leaving my kids behind.”

Emma hopes that her story will help others “listen to their body” and ask for medical help when they spot something wrong.

She is determined to beat cancer and finish her run of chemo in time for Christmas, which she said will be a “very special one” if she gets home.

Emma’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to help support her family in the weeks and months ahead.

Big sister Michelle, who founded the page said: “We are hoping to raise enough funds to help with the kids and the unexpected expenses.

“My mum has had to give up her job to help look after the kids. If you can donate anything we would be eternally grateful. Below is the post Emma put on social media to tell her story. Let's do this Wee Sis! Kick cancer’s butt.”


What are the symptoms of AML?

AML causes a number of symptoms depending on the type, and some are vague and therefore difficult to spot.

WedMD explains:

In the early stages of AML, as your body makes fewer healthy blood cells, you might feel like you've come down with the flu or get sick from infections more easily than normal. Symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats

There are several forms of AML. Each affects a different kind of blood cell. The symptoms you have depend on the type of blood cell that's affected.

If you have fewer healthy red blood cells than normal, you'll have symptoms like these:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If you have fewer healthy white blood cells than normal, you may get more infections than usual. These infections may take a long time to get better.

Infections can cause symptoms like these:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Achy muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea

If you have fewer platelets than usual, your blood may not clot as well as it should. You might have symptoms like these:

  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding that can be hard to stop
  • Bleeding gums
  • Small red spots under your skin caused by bleeding
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sores that don't heal

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