Teen’s lump diagnosed as a ‘melon-sized’ cancerous tumour

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A sports-mad teenager was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour the size of a melon after finding a lump on her buttocks. Ellie Waters, then 14, thought she had just pulled a muscle as she collapsed during a charity run. However, tests revealed she had stage four alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare form of soft tissue cancer.

Ellie was originally too embarrassed to tell anyone about the lump she found due to its position on her bum.

But when it grew rapidly and she began to experience other symptoms such as chronic constipation, weight loss and pain in her left leg while playing football, she booked a GP appointment.

Ellie, from Kettering in Northamptonshire, later received the heartbreaking diagnosis that the lump was alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and given only a 20 percent chance of survival.

“When I was diagnosed in September 2015, it was my mum that had to break the news to me,” she recalled.

“At the time I was scared as I was only 14 and didn’t know that much about cancer apart from it could kill you.”

Ellie, who has a twin sister Olivia and four other siblings, underwent a gruelling 18 months of intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy, defying the odds and beating the cancer in 2017.

She said: “Chemo was awful. I was constantly sick, and my hair fell out.

“Having cancer as a teenager is so tough because you want to be able to do all the things your friends can like go to parties and you can’t. It’s suddenly taken away from you.”

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During treatment she started to experience hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and itchy skin.

When her period failed to return six months after being cancer free, she was shocked to be told she had entered early menopause.

Now aged 21, Ellie is studying to become a doctor at Keele University and plans to become an obstetrician or gynaecologist when she graduates.

“When I first told my people I wanted to be a doctor after surviving cancer, I think my mum and my doctors were a little shocked as I had already spent so much time in hospital myself,” she said.

“My infertility and early menopause has sometimes made me not feel like a woman and I have had to redefine what being a woman means.

“I cannot get pregnant so I hope to be there for my patients and go on the journey with them if I become an obstetrician or gynaecologist.

“Going through menopause at 15 has also opened my eyes to vaginal problems which are very common for women to go through and I want to show them that they should be talked about.

“It should not be embarrassing or a taboo subject to talk about what is going on down there.”

Ellie urged others to seek medical treatment the moment they notice something is wrong.

She added: “When I found my lump I was too embarrassed to go and get it checked out because it was on my buttock.

“But I would say to everyone who notices a lump or change in their body to 100 percent go and see a doctor.”

Symptoms of soft tissue cancer can include:

  • Swelling under the skin that may cause a painless lump that cannot easily be moved around and gets bigger over time
  • Swelling in the tummy (abdomen) that may cause abdominal pain, a persistent feeling of fullness and constipation
  • Swelling near the lungs that may cause a cough or breathlessness.

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