Chinese takeaway saved my life: Girl diagnosed with leukaemia after pains following a takeaway thought to be a food intolerance turned out to be life-threatening cancer
A girl was diagnosed with leukaemia after stomach pains she thought were down to a dodgy Chinese turned out to be blood cancer.
Brooke Evans, 18, thought she had a food intolerance or an allergy when she found herself in agony after a takeaway.
But a trip to hospital proved her stomach ache was something much more serious – a rare form of cancer – lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Brooke was immediately put on a pioneering drugs trial funded by the charity Cure Leukaemia including chemotherapy and more than three months in hospital and has just been declared in remission.
In August last year Brooke was in perfect health, at the gym five times a week and enjoying starting her second year of sixth form.
It was only when she had spicy food, first a Chinese, then an Indian meal, and later a homemade chile con carne, that she suffered severe stomach pains and her parents rushed her to hospital.
After another visit to hospital at the end of September doctors searching for an explanation ran tests and finally diagnosed her with leukaemia.
She then faced six months of intensive chemotherapy and will continue to have low doses of the treatment for two years.
Brooke said: “It’s crazy that it’s the takeaways that that led to my diagnosis.
“I only got sick when I ate spicy food and a Chinese takeaway put me in A&E.
“It’s lucky really because it’s not my kind of thing – I rarely eat spicy food and it was just special occasions: a meal with my friend and my dad’s birthday.
“It was just because everyone else was eating one – I prefer pizza really!
“The pain was horrific but it went away after some strong painkillers.
“Because my back was aching as well they thought it might be sciatica, or that it was something like irritable bowel syndrome which is why I started keeping a food diary.
“I do feel much better now but there are still things that restrict me – most mornings I wake up feeling sick.
“And although I feel unlucky that I’ve had it, I don’t wish I hadn’t had it. It’s made me the person that I am and as family we’ve all helped each other to cope.”
Having just been declared in remission, Brooke is now desperate to raise awareness of the disease and the charity that funded the trial that saved her life.
Brooke’s Dad Simon, 49, said: “If it hadn’t been for the trips to hospital after the takeaways and the Cure Leukaemia drugs trial we don’t know if Brooke would be here now.
“She was perfectly healthy and there were no other signs that anything was wrong.
“She wasn’t even a regular takeaway fan. The doctors told her to keep a food diary and we all thought it was food-related.
“But then when we came in for the last time they said she had been in too many times and they needed to do some tests.
“The next day I got a call while I was at work with Brooke in tears and my wife Mel trying to explain.
“It was absolutely devastating. You just feel like someone has just driven over you.
“As a parent it’s heart-breaking to know that your daughter is in pain but she has been so brave.
“She would get to the middle of the night after eating some foods and be in agony, rolling around in bed.
“Now we just want to help other people with the same disease.
“We were like rabbits in the headlights when she was first diagnosed and Cure Leukaemia’s nurses helped us through everything.
“If people donate money to Cure Leukaemia they can continue with the trial and help more people with the same type of cancer.
“They have changed our lives and given us everything.”