Night out saved my life: woman diagnosed with rare leukaemia after waking up from night out with mysterious bruises
A woman was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia after waking up from a night out covered in mysterious bruises.
After a night on the tiles, Thea Wilson’s arms and legs were covered with nasty, purple bruises, but she had no idea where they had come from.
Having stayed sober the whole evening, the 37-year-old knew she had not fallen down the stairs and that the gnarly marks could only have come from slight bumps on the dancefloor.
After the bruising failed to subside, Thea, from Burwarton, Shrops, was told by doctors she had a platelet disorder.
But after a bone marrow biopsy, her whole world came falling down when she was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APML) – a very rare form of the blood cancer that affects only 100 people per year.
Thea, who works in medical sales, said: “I had no idea where these bruises had come from.
“They were big and purple and all up my arms and legs.
“I’d been getting little ones for a few weeks but nothing like that.
“At first the doctors thought it was a platelet disorder.
“When they told me I had leukaemia my world fell apart.”
One December day Thea was completing a 10km run, wondering why she didn’t seem to have the energy she usually had.
Within 24 hours she had embarked on her first of four cycles of chemotherapy at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and told she wouldn’t be discharged for quite some time.
Thea’s life came crashing down on December 5 last year after a couple of months of feeling a “tad under the weather” and having bruises appear on her body.
Thea said: “I went to the doctors but because I didn’t tick any of the other boxes for leukaemia, such as exhaustion.
“When they sat me down and told me I was seriously ill, I didn’t know what to do.
“All of a sudden they told me I had aggressive leukaemia, I was a medical emergency and my hair was going to fall out.
“All I could do was turn to my mum and say ‘I’m sorry’.”
With a platelet count of just 9 – a healthy person’s is anywhere from 140 to 400 – the clotting mechanism in her blood was severely reduced leaving her in danger of internal bleeding.
Thea was immediately rushed to an isolation room and started on a five month routine of intensive chemotherapy and All Trans Retinoic Acid (ATRA) – a form of Vitamin A.
In addition, she was given usually Fresh Frozen Plasma, Fibrinogen and Platelets to improved her blood clotting capability.
She said: “I was so very lucky.
“If I had fallen running, or been kicked by my horse, I could have died.
“I had no idea that getting me through the first month was a challenge in itself.
“I was allowed to be out for Boxing Day but I was so used to my isolation bubble it felt dangerous I just wanted to go back into hospital.”
Less than six months after her diagnosis, Thea was told she had entered into molecular remission.
To celebrate she entered the Race For Life, to raise money for the O’Connell
Thea said: “I have to have a bone marrow aspiration every 12 weeks for the next three years to monitor the health of my blood factory.
“The leukaemia could relapse but that won’t stop me living my life.
“The blood unit saved my life so I wanted to give something back by raising money for them.”
Dr George Cherian, Thea’s doctor from the Royal Shrewsbury O’Connor Haematology Unit, said: “Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APL) is a rare form of leukaemia- account for 10-15% of all Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).
“It is distinctive because patients not only present with low blood counts but also a dangerous and life threatening clotting abnormality.
“This is because of a specific chromosome translocation leads to an excess in the Promyelocyte cells – normally a stage in the maturing neutrophil white cell – which do not progress to maturity.
“Due to their being rich in granules, this leads to coagulopathy – a bleeding disorder due to abnormal clotting.
“Thea achieved molecular remission after her second course of ATRA and Chemotherapy.
“This is taken as a marker for ‘cure’ on the proviso that bone marrow samples are monitored for a period of two years.”
Thea’s Macmillan nurse, haematology clinical nurse Bridget Atkins, said: “Thea has remained incredibly focused and positive throughout the whole of her treatment, never allowing it to get the better of her.
“Her attitude has been one that has inspired many of the nurses who have had the privilege of delivering her care.
“She is a classic example of someone with great spirit, who rises up in the face of adversity and turns a negative into a positive.”
Thea is fundraising for The Shropshire Blood Fund Trust on https://www.justgiving.com/Thea-Wilson1/