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How brave Samantha Smith won her battle with lymphoma
WHEN Samantha Smith started suffering from hot flushes and sweating she put it down to warm weather and pollen allergies.
Even when the then 19-year-old went to the doctor after finding a lump and was told it was lymphoma she thought a simple ointment would cure.
Only when the words cancer followed did she understand the gravity of the battle she faced.
Samantha, from Haydock, has shared the story of her battle with the illness to support Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week.
Following months of intensive treatment she was finally given the all-clear in May, and now wants to help increase awareness of the illness.
Lymphoma are cancers of the lymphatic system, part of the body’s immune system.
Each year 14,000 people are diagnosed, and 75,000 people in the UK are living with the condition.
Samantha hadn’t heard of lymphoma until she was diagnosed.
“When you’re 19 years old, it’s not something you ever expect to happen to you,” she said. “I had been ignoring the symptoms for a while because the possibility of cancer was the last thing on my mind.
“When the doctor told me I had lymphoma, I thought they could maybe give me a cream for it. I had no idea what it was.”
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, one of the most common types of the illness.
It required her to undergo six months of chemotherapy at St Helens Hospital’s Lilac Centre, followed by two weeks of radiotherapy.
Samantha, now 20, said: “Nurses at the centre were incredible. They made the whole experience easier, made you as comfortable as possible and would give you anything you could need.
“Chemo would knock me out for about a week and a half – it was nauseating and tiring. Then as I’d start to feel better, I’d have to go and do it all over again.”
“Sally Penrose, Lymphoma Association chief executive, said: “Although lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, many people haven’t heard of it until they or a loved one are diagnosed.
“We are trying to change this, so that people will go to their GP straight away if they experience any lymphoma symptoms over a period of time.”
Common symptoms include painless lumps or swelling in areas such as the neck, armpit or groin; feeling unusually worn out; unexpectedly losing weight; sweating excessively, or suffering with abdominal pain or diarrhoea.
Samantha said: “Cancer doesn’t choose girls, boys, young people or old. It’s something that can happen to anyone, and it’s really important to be aware of the symptoms and get checked out if you suspect anything.”
After winning her battle with the illness, Samantha took part in this year’s Race 4 Life with her family and is intent on raising awareness of lymphoma in any way she can.
She said; “It’s not about trying to scare people. It’s about really knowing your body and being able to realise when something is wrong.”
“There are times when I still don’t believe it happened to me.
But I feel like I’ve been given the chance to start anew. I have a greater understanding of my body now and feel a lot more determined to take care of it.”
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