Beautiful brunette thanks drunken night out for saving her life after back pain diagnosed as bone cancer
A beautiful brunette is thanking a drunken night out with friends for saving her life – after a drunken stumble led to doctors spotting she had bone cancer.
Claire Burgess, 25, from Accrington, Lancs, was partying with friends when she fell over onto her back – she was left in agony and days later she visited her GP.
Doctors first thought it was just nerve damage but after being referred to a physiotherapist they spotted something more sinister.
One of Claire’s legs was numb from top to bottom and she was immediately booked in for an MRI scan.
Two weeks later, in November 2010, she was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer and needed gruelling rounds of chemotherapy in a bid to save her life.
But it failed to shrink her tumour so she took part in a stem-cell drug trial, something that would leave her infertile.
Luckily it worked, and now, almost five years later Claire is cancer free, planning her wedding and hoping to adopt next year.
Claire said: “I have no doubt that my night out with friends saved my life.
“All my friends came rushing over to hug me and that’s when I lost my balance.
“I remember falling on the floor and my friends saying ‘come on Claire get up.’
“But I just couldn’t move, the pain was unbearable and I needed help to finally get back on my feet.
“I thought I would sleep it off but when I woke up it was no better so I started taking paracetamol.
“I had never been ill or injured before so the pain was a real shock, I was in constant agony.
“So a few days later I decided to visit my GP who told me I had sciatica and there was nothing they could do for it.
“But the pain got worse, so I visited the doctors again.
“After at least 10 trips to the doctors I was referred to a physiotherapist and I could tell they knew something was seriously wrong.
“They did a few small tests and as soon as they realised my leg was numb from top to bottom I was referred for a MRI scan.
“I was in so much pain I couldn’t sleep and was having baths and showers in the night to try and relax the pain, it became so bad that I even visited A&E during the night.”
Claire’s scan results showed a mass on her pelvis, a biopsy confirmed her worst fears – she had cancer.
She added: “I was just 20-years-old when I was diagnosed with Stage Four Ewing’s sarcoma of the pelvis bone cancer, I was given a 40 per cent chance of survival.
“It had also spread into the soft tissue around the bone.
“I never imagined it would be something so life-threatening, ‘who gets cancer at 20?’ I thought.”
It was November 2010, Claire had just finished college and was working two part-time jobs.
But she needed to stop living her normal life and immediately start treatment if she wanted to survive, in December she began six cycles chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy.
Claire added: “I was terrified but it was such a shock that I didn’t have that much time to think about it.
“The chemotherapy wasn’t working and doctors told me my only chance was to undergo a stem cell transplant, it would make me completely infertile and despite wanting children, I knew it was the only shot I had at having a future.
“It took four weeks to complete the trial and it was awful as I was in complete isolation as I had no immune system.
“The treatment took its toll on my body, after my 30 sessions of radiotherapy, I lost a staggering two-stone.
“My mum, Janet, 60, was my rock throughout it all, she came to every appointment with me, I couldn’t have got through it without her.”
Thankfully all the treatment was worth it as Claire’s tumour on her pelvis disappeared leaving just scar tissue.
By the end of 2011, Claire was deemed in remission and that’s when she met now, fiancé, James Murray, 28.
She added: “It was amazing when I met James, I told him about my diagnosis and he was so supportive.
“We are getting married next month and plan to adopt a child next year so we can complete our family.
“I have routine scans every three months to check my cancer hasn’t returned but I’m getting close to five years cancer free so that’ll be a huge weight off my shoulders when I hit that milestone.”
Claire has been supported throughout her journey by the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
Bone Cancer Research Trust chief executive Julie Harrington said:
“Claire is an inspirational young woman whose positivity and determination have helped her to get back on her feet – in more ways than one.
It’s wonderful to see how she has overcome the challenges thrown at her since her bone cancer diagnosis and we wish her and her family much love, health and happiness in the future.
Primary bone cancer is a cruel and devastating disease, which affects 600 people in the UK and Ireland every year and leaves them with long-lasting physical and emotional scars.
Patients know their own bodies better than anyone – if you’re experiencing bone pain or any swelling, please do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your GP to help them rule out the possibility of primary bone cancer.”