Woman Seeks Treatment for Tonsillitis and Discovers It’s a Rare Blood Cancer

A British woman who thought her sore throat and swallowing problems were due to tonsillitis has been shocked to find out she has a rare blood cancer – aged just 24.

Georgina Masson called her swallowing problems an infection after having tonsillitis several times, but after a course of antibiotics she continued to struggle to swallow and could barely open her mouth.

She was admitted to East Surrey Hospital near London, where doctors carried out tests to determine what was wrong.

She was diagnosed in August with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after a week in hospital.

Georgina Masson called her swallowing problems an infection after having tonsillitis several times, but after a course of antibiotics she continued to struggle to swallow and could barely open her mouth.
Georgina Masson/Zenger

Masson, who lost her father, Paul, 54, to cancer when she was 15, was shocked by the news and began treatment the following day.

Now nearing the end of her eight cycles of chemotherapy, she is grateful that she was able to catch the disease earlier.

Masson, who worked as an administrative clerk and is from Horsham, West Sussex, said: “I felt so numb when they told me I had cancer.

Georgina Masson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
Georgina Masson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August and is nearing the end of her eight cycles of chemotherapy.

“I just thought I had tonsillitis – I had no idea it was so much more serious than that.

“I had to start treatment right away.

“It was terrifying – especially after losing my father when I was 15.

“I didn’t expect to have cancer at 24.

“I really thought I had a sore throat, but it turned out to be much worse.”

Georgina started noticing in July that she had lost weight, but she didn’t think about it as she was happy to lose a few pounds for the summer.

“I think I lost about three stone (42 pounds) but it didn’t seem concerning,” she said.

But she also found that her gums bled easily and she bruised quickly.

“I had never had nosebleeds or anything, but all of a sudden I had them,” Georgina said.

“I just thought the bruises were due to my clumsiness.”

Georgina Masson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
Georgina Masson, 24, said she had a rash all over her body which doctors first thought was a reaction to antibiotics when they treated her for tonsillitis. It turned out to be a rare blood cancer.
Georgina Masson/Zenger

After thinking she had tonsillitis in July 2021, she was given antibiotics to clear up the infection.

“After a few weeks I still couldn’t swallow and could barely open my mouth,” she said.

“The drugs didn’t seem to be working.”

Masson was admitted to East Surrey Hospital by her doctor who carried out further tests to see what it could be.

“I’m starting to get a horrible red rash all over my body,” she said.

“The doctors thought it might have been a reaction to the antibiotics, but they didn’t go away when I stopped them.”

Eventually, after a bone marrow biopsy, doctors were able to diagnose him with acute myeloid leukemia in August 2021.

“I didn’t really recognize what they said,” Masson said.

“My mother, Elizabeth, 62, was more upset but I just felt numb.

“It didn’t really penetrate at first.”

Georgina Masson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
Georgina Masson, 24, said she had a rash all over her body which doctors first thought was a reaction to antibiotics when they treated her for tonsillitis. It turned out to be a rare blood cancer.

Masson was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, Surrey, for her treatment.

“At first they told me I had the AML strain which isn’t as rare, so they said I could go home and start chemotherapy in a week,” she said.

“But on the way home they called to say they had looked into it and needed me to start that night.

“I had only been told I had cancer the day before and so I started chemo.

“Everything was so quick.”

Masson began treatment in August 2021 and has undergone seven cycles so far. She is due to complete her treatment this month.

“It’s been really difficult,” she said.

“I got really bad headaches from it to the point of having to sit in a completely dark room with an eye mask on.

“But recent results show that I am almost in complete molecular remission.

“I feel more positive now that I am going through this ordeal.

“But there were times when I thought I was going to die.

“I’m so lucky to have had it early.”

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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